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State grant gives Galt students something unique to do after school

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Posted: Sunday, January 4, 2009 10:00 pm

On a recent Saturday, a group of Estrellita High School students were playing competitive soccer.

The following Tuesday, students at Galt High were baking cinnamon buns. And, in the spring, they'll learn to create an actual business.

It's all part of the district's new 21st Century After-School Program which started in mid-November.

In addition to the fun classes offered after school five days a week, students learn study skills and can receive tutoring focused on raising standardized test scores.

District program enrollment is currently open to all students, but administrators plan to reach out to at-risk students in the future.

Estrellita Principal Tony Lara said it's a great way to keep teenagers out of trouble.

"This way, they don't go home at 3 p.m. and get in trouble. The longer we keep them, the better," he told school board members at a recent meeting.

At Estrellita, the hours-long after-school program averages about 30 a day and 17 to 35 at Galt High, where coordinator Patricia St. James said there is a wait list for the cooking and weightlifting classes. There is also a photography course.

"We could bring in more things if we had more space," she added.

In the spring, the school plans to add a DVD class where students will be able to apply marketing and technology skills, and in a separate class an intern from California State University, Chico will help students set up an actual business.

The program was made possible by a three-year grant from the state, according to Edith Crawford, assistant superintendent of curriculum.

The reason Galt was selected was in part because of the support of local agencies such as the city Parks and Recreation Department, she added.

In the future, the district hopes to partner with the department for unique classes such as teaching students how to be sports referees.

The Galt elementary school board plans to apply for the same grant next month, according to Superintendent Karen Schauer.

That district already offers after-school programs at two of its schools, but wants to expand.

"Having this as an opportunity is a wonderful thing," Schauer said recently. "We're ready to build this district-wide."

Galt's program is modeled after one created by the federal government, and supports the creation of community learning centers to provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

It also helps students meet state and local student standards in core academic subjects, such as reading and math; offers students a broad array of enrichment activities that can complement their regular academic programs; and offers literacy and other educational services to the families of participating children.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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