Extended day

Published 8:46 pm Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This afternoon, Demopolis Middle School will host an open house for its extended day program, to be held from 3 to 5 p.m. in the school library.

The open house is an opportunity for parents and community members to see what the extended day program does and how it works.

The extended day program provides students with after-school activities, allowing them to do homework or take part in other activities.

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“This is a federally funded program through a grant originally written by Martha McKnight,” said Deborah Brown, director of the program. “We offer services to the students at the middle school. We assist them with homework. We have small group discussions with language arts, math and science through the use of SuccessMaker. We offer physical aid, and we offer enrichment to the students.

“We have six teachers working with the extended day program. We also have a retired teacher and a teacher’s aide. We operate Mondays through Fridays from 3:04 to 5:00.”

“The grant was something that Dr. Anita Freeman applied for about eight years ago,” said DMS principal Clarence Jackson Jr. “We got almost $1 million, and ever since then, we’ve continued to apply for that. The numbers have come down considerably, but we still have enough to maintain a decent after-school program.

“It helps the students with their homework, and actually gives them some enrichment activities as well. Some days, you may walk in and see them doing aerobics or playing ping-pong or doing things on the computers. Actually, it is tailored for the community, too. A lot of times, parents get off work around 5:00, and we have something constructive for the students to do, and it’s supervised, so that’s a big plus for the community and the parents. We are able to do this every year because of the funding for it.”

Brown said she is looking forward to today’s open house as an opportunity to showcase what the program means to DMS students.

“This is for parents, faculty members and community members to come in and observe our program and see what it is we are doing,” she said. “This is something we try to do annually. People can come in and enjoy the refreshments and see exactly what it is we do here.”

Brown said that the number of students taking part in the program varies, but generally 20 to 30 students take part every day.

Brown said that although the grant covers many of the program’s needs, the program would also accept donations from community members who wanted to help.

“We’re open to that,” she said. “Anything they would have to offer, we are open to accepting it, and we would certainly appreciate any type of donation.”

“The students really enjoy this program,” Brown said. “They get assistance with their homework, and most of the teachers who are working in the program are also their teachers during the day. So, if something went on during the day and the students just didn’t get it, they can ask their teachers about it after school. They also love the other things: the arts and crafts, they love the keyboarding — they just enjoy all of the activities that are going on. I think it’s a good program.”