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Coleville program rivals big city’s

by Heidi Alder, Staff Writer

The Eastern Sierra Unified School District received a $400,000 federal grant that has enabled Coleville to implement an after school program similar to those in much larger districts.

Coleville’s new After School Program, funded by a 21st Century federal grant, began Dec. 4 under the direction of Morgan Nugent, Healthy Start/After School coordinator. Helene Kozeniesky and Linda May also assist with the program.

Before the grant, Coleville only offered an after school homework club and extra tutoring, Nugent said. The district saw the need for more activities for their students, so officials applied for a federal grant to serve students in all grades.

“Sixty-five to 70 percent of our kids go home to an empty house or just to a brother or sister,” Nugent said. “Now, kids can have academic and recreational activities.”

The $400,000 grant is three years for schools in Benton, Mammoth, Lee Vining, Bridgeport and Coleville, Nugent said.

The staff is thrilled with the participation, he said.

“There are a total of 260 students in Coleville, kindergarten to 12th grade, and 45 percent have signed up for the After School Program,” Nugent said. “We only expected 30 to 55 kids, but we’ve had over 115 kids sign up.”

The month of December was free to students, but due to the cost of the activities, the children will be charge $15 a month starting in January.

“We were hoping to keep it free, but, realistically, it wasn’t possible with all the things we wanted to do,” Nugent said.

Activities include karate, arts and crafts, computer education, gymnastics, weight training and conditioning, chess and board games club and Students for Communities. The program will begin offering “weird” science, wildlife and an aquatic animal class and a tobacco/drug prevention class later in the school year, Nugent said.

The program operates every day after school from 2:15 to 5:30 p.m., divided into one-hour blocks so students can participate in three activities.

Cory Reza, 13, is an 8th grader at Coleville. He has been going to the After School Program to do his homework and use the computers.

“It helps with school. When I go home there’s a lot of noise and I mess around with my brothers and sisters. So, if I come here, it’s calm and I can do my work,” Cory said.

He has improved his grades and plans to continue in the After School Program.

“The grant is what keeps all this going,” Nugent said. “There’s no way we could do it without the grant.”

Nugent’s next job is to find funding for the program after the grant expires. He has contacted local businesses and service groups. The program also needs to hire two more teachers, so there will be 10 students per paid instructor.

“There are four people on staff right now, and there are a lot of parent volunteers,” Nugent said. “Parents have been very supportive of it.”

Nugent is pleased with the support the program has received from Jason Reid, the principal, as well as the teachers and custodians.

“It gives us reason to take pride in our school and show the kids that the school and community care about them,” Nugent said.

He says that this is the most successful program of its kind in Coleville.

For more information, contact Nugent at (530) 495-2198.