NORFOLK – A grant for an after-high school program in the Norwood-Norfolk Central School District will expire this year, but district officials have included funding in their budget to ensure it continues.
Superintendent James Cruikshank said the program received two grants, each for five years. Funding is also shared with the St. Lawrence and Lisbon school districts, which are working with Norwood-Norfolk to brainstorm programs for students. Separate funding is provided to three other districts in the north of the country.
“This grant ends at the end of this school year, but we have requested another five-year grant. I might be optimistic about this grant, but I’m also realistic in that if we were successful it would be 15 years of funding. It is quite unheard of. So realistically we are preparing not to have this grant, ”he told members of the education council.
However, he said, “We have funding in the budget if we are not successful with this grant.”
Program manager Laura Gutenmann said the students named the program the “Green and Gold Thunderbolts Extended Day Program”.
“The very first year we had a campaign where all the students determined we were the Green and Gold Thunderbolts. The after-school program has been named that since then, ”she said.
She said the extended day program was publicly funded to extend the school day and promote school violence prevention programs.
“We got the grant twice, which is pretty great. I know by the end of the first sunset we had it within budget. The board was very supportive at the time, and I’m really happy that you are now supporting the continuation of the program if, for some reason, we don’t receive the grant again, ”Ms. Gutenmann said.
The district partners with Clarkson University, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Seaway Prevention Council to provide programs for students.
“Our goal of the grant is to provide academic enrichment, and this can take the form of homework help. But it can also come in the form of simple activities that promote math, science, English language arts, arts and technology, and we do a lot of youth development, trying to build positive relationships with the students, ”she said.
The program was active before the pandemic.
“Before the pandemic, we provided support on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays until 2:15 p.m. for students (grades five to eight). Then our fourth grade students joined us from 3:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. Part of the grant was to provide transportation for our students to and from the after-school program and for all the activities they participated in, which really helped students who wouldn’t be able to get transportation otherwise, ”Ms. Gutenmann said. .
There was also a summer component which included four weeks of internal programs, as well as partner programs.
“For us it was four days a week so we could spend a little more time with them and doing things like books on the beach and going to the nature center and doing field trips which was very beneficial for them instead of a five day a week program. We made a lot of excursion opportunities for them. Every year we have taken a trip to a fun place and the kids have always enjoyed it, ”she said.
A trip was to Syracuse to visit a science center. Another was a boat trip on the river.
“We’ve taken a lot of local excursions to explore the things we’re doing here to give them great ideas for things to do, and we’ve worked a lot with our partners,” Ms. Gutenmann said.
Clarkson University offered science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs. Activities included making slime during Halloween, as well as building bridges and testing them with other school districts.
Cornell Cooperative Extension provided nutrition programs and helped set up a greenhouse at the school. The Seaway Prevention Council offered two prevention programs – Too Good for Drugs and Too Good for Violence.
Once the pandemic struck, activities continued. They created the Digital Thunderbolts, which were broadcast live. They shared communications and digital resources through Google Classroom, and they shared resources with their partners.
“We cooked online, we made crafts online, we sent all kinds of activity packages home to every student in the program, and we still do. We do this three days a week. We do our programming online with our students in Grades 4 to 8 and, one day a week, we offer tutoring from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for parents who wish to bring their children. We don’t just help our students. Part of the grant is aimed at reaching our parents and our community, ”said Ms. Gutenmann.
She said about 100 students participated in the pandemic last year, and they have about 85 so far this year and are working to strengthen it.
“Our target is 75. We have always wanted to exceed that number,” she said.