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Grant allows Northwoods school district to create long-wanted programSubmitted: 02/17/2015
Story By Lauren Stephenson

Grant allows Northwoods school district to create long-wanted program
EAGLE RIVER - One Northwoods school district can test a new program that's been in demand for years. It's all thanks to a rural schools grant.

"One of the biggest things parents have talked about is, 'Do you have after school programs for the kids?'" said Eagle River Elementary and Northland Pines Middle School Principal Tony Duffek.

For all the years Duffek has worked for the Northland Pines School District, his answer was, "Nothing on a consistent weekly basis."

A $27,000 rural schools grant changed that. The grant is available
to rural school districts with a poverty rate of 20% or greater. The district is using it to pay for after school snacks and teacher supervision a couple times each week.

"All three elementary schools, we have the after school programs, and then we also have one for the middle school as well," Duffek said.

The program started in January. It is offered two days per week at the elementary schools. Nearly 70 students just at Eagle River Elementary are participating in the program.

"Half of them are doing a physical activity for about a half hour, and then the other half are doing reading and math games or coding on the computer," explained Jone Davis, a teacher.

The middle school hosts an after school program three times per week.

"It's really just a tutoring area where they can come, get their work done. Every kid has a Chromebook. They may not have internet at home so they're allowed to do it here where we have internet for them and also sometimes kids go home and might struggle with their homework where we have, you know, staff available to help the child here," Duffek said.

The program also gives students in kindergarten through fifth grade the opportunity to learn about computer coding. It's something they wouldn't have a chance to learn during the school day.

"They look forward to what they're doing. The group I work with, with the coding, they want to know what they get to do and how far they are. They're helping each other solve the problems on the computer, and creating the codes," Davis said.

The grant will cover the cost of the program through mid-March.

"We can reevaluate it at the end of the year and see if this is something that we want to continue," Duffek said.

Some of the grant money will also help pay for alcohol and drug awareness for the high school and training for teachers to better teach English Language Learners.

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