Learning & Fun (WITH GALLERY)

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 8, 2022

Kindergartener Isaiah McComas paints a winter scene in Mrs. Church’s class during South Point Elementary School’s afterschool program on Wednesday. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

South Point afterschool program offers extended learning

SOUTH POINT — For the last few months, South Point Elementary School has hosted a new program that gives students a chance to continue learning beyond typical school hours.

“We started in October,” assistant principal Bill Christian, who serves as co-site coordinator for the new afterschool program, said.

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Christian said the focus of the program is “homework help, instruction and enrichment.”

Students learn to twirl flags in Kristin Dickess’s class during South Point Elementary School’s afterschool program on Wednesday. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

He defines enrichment as a chance to try new activities and explore topics not covered in a typical school day.

For instance, he said, for Thanksgiving, students learned what life was like aboard the Mayflower.

He said this portion, in the warmer months, included nature walks and outdoor art, such as students painting rocks for the school’s garden.

Since the colder weather has moved in, indoor activities have included arts and crafts and cooking, while one teacher, Kristine Dickess, has been instructing a group of fourth and fifth graders in flag twirling as done by a color guard at the middle and high schools.

Christian said they considered making flags from PVC pipes, but instead opted to go to the band store and get the actual weighted ones.

“We wanted the real McCoy,” he said.

He said the program runs from 3:25-5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, after which students are picked up on two buses.

“And they’re home by 6 p.m.,” he said.

He said 76 students, in kindergarten through fifth grade, take part, about 20 percent of the school’s student body. It is open to all, he said, and all parents had to do was register their child.

Altogether, 12 teachers take part in the program, as well as non-certified staff and students from the high school, who serve as aides.

Christian said most teachers work two nights a week in the after hours, but some opt to do all four days. He said most classrooms in the program have two teachers and staff, such as nurses and secretaries teaching in the program.

He said Burlington Elementary, the other K-5 school in the South Point district, began offering the program last year, through a grant from the Gallia ESC, and it proved popular enough that the South Point school board decided to implement it at his school as well, picking up the cost.

The evening starts with a snack in the cafeteria, followed by homework help, which Christian said is the top priority, before closing out with the other activities.

He said the school is also offering a morning version, starting an hour and 40 minutes before the school day, for which one teacher works.

“And we have some students who do both morning and evening,” he said.

In addition to the academic advantages, Christian said it also provides safe child care for parents.

“And the students aren’t just sitting idly by a screen,” he said. “They’re doing activities.

Christian said this year’s program will run through mid-April.