Okaloosa School District Receives Grant Money for After School Programs

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OKALOOSA COUNTY-- Students in Okaloosa County officially kicked off their second week of school Monday.

This year, 240 students from four different elementary schools can expect to take part in a new program.

Beginning now until the end of the school year, students who participate in the free or reduced lunch program, have the option to enroll into a free, educational after school program.

"So opportunities that in regular day care they wouldn't have, because this is a more academic enrichment program focused on increasing their academic skills," said Dr. Sandy Arteaga, Title 1 and Title X Specialist of Curriculum and Instruction for the Okaloosa County School District.

District officials applied for a federal grant last spring.

They were awarded $1.8 million for five years to provide this after school program to Baker, Edwins, Elliot Point and Wright Elementary schools.

"They will provide them with homework help, and then after that, they will have academic enrichment programs like robotics, nutrition, exercise, art, and music," said Dr. Arteaga. "So it develops different parts of their brain, and it provides opportunities they may not otherwise have."

Teachers and staff at all four schools prepared this summer for the program.

Janet Norris, Principal at Elliot Point says this program will not only benefit the students, but also their parents.

"There will be Friday afternoon meetings with parents, to talk about what the students have learned, and to help them as well," said Norris. "There are specific parent education pieces involved because our goal is for them to continue working, while their children are in safe, learning environments."

District officials say attendance Monday thru Friday is mandatory for students enrolled in this program.