Earl Hanson Turns The Lights On For Students After School

School is in session a couple hours longer for students at one school in Rock Island.

Earl Hanson Elementary School re-started a federally-funded after-school program on Monday, January 14th, 2013. The “Lights On For Learning” program was at Earl Hanson years ago and after funding ran out, it took three years of applying for the grant again to get the program back. On Monday, 81 students split up into 15-17 smaller groups to participate in the first day of the five-year program.

“I like that we learn together and have fun and it’s more exciting,” says Kaleb Harrison, a 5th Grader at Earl Hanson.

The program gives students like Kaleb – who says he wants to be a Construction Engineer when he grows up – more time and more academic support to work on their worst subjects. In another classroom, students with extra skills in certain subjects are getting ready for life after elementary school.

“In junior high, I know that there’s a lot of Science and Math and we’re going to need to know the basic stuff that we learn here,” says 6th Grader, Kaiah Miles.

Kaiah is one of 20 students at Earl Hanson involved in the Illinois Math and Science Academy, or IMSA. She says she hopes to be a Biologist or Zoologist one day.

The program, which is a $138,000 grant every year for five years, does not just take place int he classroom. Principal Deb Taber says there will be music opportunities on Tuesdays and Thursdays, community group visits on Wednesdays, and even some field trips.

“We have many successes that we hope to see with our students,” says Principal Taber. “Of course, we want them to be academically successful with reading, writing, language arts, and math, but we also want them to expand on what’s in our community.”

Illinois receives the funds from the U.S. Department of Education. A total of $14 million was available for Fiscal Year 2013 through a competitive grant process. Since the program started years ago, Rock Island has received 11 of the grants for seven different schools in their district.

“This gives families an opportunity to have their students stay at school and get that extra support that they may need, to have some enrichment type activities, and of course, there are always social skills involved with that and just knowing what’s here for our students,” says Kate Lievens, who teaches 6th Grade. “It also provides a safe place for kids to be in the after-school hours. A lot of students’ parents have jobs and they work. They’re not home after school.”

And having the program around for five years will make all the difference no matter the grade level, Ms. Lievens says.

“These kids that I’m working with in five years will be up at the high school and so I think it will give them the basic skills that they need to move on, but we’ll also have our next generation coming through and I hope that we can kind of provide that same support.”

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