Enriching education

Region 16 school board approves afterschool programs

REGION 16 — The Board of Education has taken a step towards providing an enrichment experience for students in the district.

The board unanimously approved five afterschool enrichment programs for the 2014-15 school year at its March 26 meeting.

“We want to make sure that we’re reaching all students,” Board Chair Donna Cullen said.

Director of Curriculum and Instruction Barbara Peck said the district, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, doesn’t have a gifted and talented program. She said parents have expressed interest in having enrichment programs after school.

“This would be the first step moving into providing that type of experience for the students,” Peck told the board as she presented the programs.

The five programs approved are:

  • Club Invention is for students in grades three through six. It provides inquiry-based activities in science, technology, engineering and math.
  • National Stock Market Simulation is for students in grades six through eight. Student teams are given $100,000 in virtual cash and then use the money to simulate buying and selling stocks, bonds and mutual funds.
  • Math Olympiads is for fourth- and fifth-graders. The students practice for monthly math challenges and will compete in a national Olympiad online.
  • MATHCOUNTS is for middle school students. Students compete in “bee-style” contests against other students. The program is currently in place at Long River Middle School, but will continue after school.
  • MAD Science is for students in first through fifth grade. The students will conduct science experiments and build items to take home, such as rockets and periscopes.

Peck said the programs would cost an additional $11,300. However, she said, there is money within the special education budget that can be allocated for the programs. So, the programs will not cost the board any additional money. There is no fee for students to participate.

In a subsequent interview, Superintendent of Schools Tim James said there is an absence of enrichment and talented programs in the district. The focus has to be on as many students as possible, he said.

James also lauded Peck for finding a way to add the programs at no additional cost.

The programs approved for next year are for elementary and middle school students.

James said there are a lot of extracurricular activities already in place at Woodland Regional High School. The thought, he said, is to begin with the enrichment programs in the younger grades then assess the needs and interest at the high school.

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