After-school program grows
Enrollment numbers double

COVINGTON - Newton County School System's After School Academic Program already is growing, after kicking off this school year once the program was piloted last year.

The pilot program started with about 175 students at three sites. ASAP is an enrichment program that incorporates general education studies, health and fitness, cultural activities, the arts and other areas.

Before the 2009-10 school year started, NCSS held registration for the program, which holds a tuition of $40 per week. This school year, almost 350 students enrolled by the first week in programs at Porterdale, Live Oak, West Newton, Rocky Plains and Middle Ridge elementary schools. Now about 360 students are in the program.

With the help of a grant, this month the program plans to serve more than 600 students at those schools, as well as at Ficquett Elementary School and Fairview and Clements theme schools.

"It has grown tremendously," said Deena Sams, ASAP coordinator at NCSS. "We're also growing in the variety of enrichment activities that we are offering."

Earlier this month, NCSS was awarded a federally funded 21st Century Community learning Centers grant from the Georgia Department of Education that included $350,000 for the expansion of the ASAP.

"We are pleased that the grant-writing efforts of the team are enabling the school system to offer ASAP to students," said NCSS Superintendent Steven Whatley in a press release. "This program will be an additional source of help to students in academic need."

With the grant, the program will be able to serve 250 students tuition-free at Porterdale Elementary, Middle Ridge Elementary, Liberty Middle and Challenge Charter Academy, as well as the community-based program at the Washington Street Community Center.

"This program will provide funding for many of our children who are in need of remediation and after-school supervision," said Dr. Kathy Garber, grants coordinator at NCSS. "We are very hopeful that this opportunity will be a tremendous asset in helping them to achieve academic success."

Also thanks to the grant, ASAP now will provide students with more technology experience through daily work in computer labs with educational games and math and reading skills practice on computer software.

"This program will offer students and their families support through after-school and parent services that will enhance learning during the regular school day," Sams said in the press release. "The 21st Century ASAP will feature activities that students will not only enjoy, but will learn simultaneously. We are extremely excited to have this program in Newton County."

Other ASAP activities include writing, foreign language and sign language, dance and step, music, debate, poetry, sewing, cooking, photography and various sports like basketball and golf, among others.

Sams also said the program plans to offer students entrepreneurial skills and to incorporate parents into lessons by inviting them to the schools some days to reteach them skills so they can help their students with their homework.

The grant could provide NCSS with more than $1 million over the next three years.

Tuition-free students are enrolled in ASAP through invitation only, but students who pay tuition may enroll at any time.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.