Program stretches learning opportunities

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Last year, Demopolis Middle School began an Extended Day program after seeing a need to provide students with a little extra help and a positive after school activity. One year later, the program has grown in leaps and bounds.

The program began as a way to provide after school learning activities such as homework assistance, tutoring in reading, language arts, math, science and enrichment. No one could have imagined how many students would join the program and how much Extended Day would provide for the school.

Demopolis Middle School principal Clarence Jackson Jr. said the program is especially effective because it allows students an opportunity to work with teachers one on one.

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“This is a great opportunity for our students,” Jackson said. “Sometimes there is help they can’t get during school and this gives them a chance to ask questions. Sometimes there are questions they don’t want to ask because they don’t want their peers to know they don’t know the answer and this is a chance for them to ask those questions.”

The Extended Day program was supplemented with a Century 21 grant, which allowed them to purchase several pieces of equipment. The most significant addition, program director Martha McKnight said, was 25 new computers.

“The thing we are most proud of is our new computer lab,” McKnight said. “They have been placed in the library and they are accessible to all the students in the school.”

They also purchased printers, a copier, keyboards, guitars and drums so they can teach music as well as a ceramic kiln.

One of the computer programs offered is called Success-maker. This program helps students in all academic areas. Jackson said programs such as this, as well as the other activities they offer, make well-rounded students.

“The Extended Day program is a great chance for enrichment,” Jackson said. “They get the one on one time they need with teachers, they get to use the computer programs and they get to go to the gym and do lots of other activities that help them build skills in those areas as well.”

Jackson said McKnight and the others who help with the program do a wonderful job. McKnight said it was an example of teachers and students working together.

“This is a wonderful group of kids and this is a wonderful group of teachers,” McKnight said. “We feel like we have pulled the best that we have into this group. The atmosphere is great and it gets better every day.”

Students participating in the program are charged a fee of $5 per day to supplement the Century 21 money. McKnight said students who want to register for the program could register at the office or just show up.

“We are not hard to work with,” McKnight said. “We have a very good working relationship will all of our parents and we hope to continue that.”

As numbers grow and programs are added, McKnight said, one thing says the same.

“We are there for the children and we are there for the teachers,” McKnight said.