Morgantown starts new learning center

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 2, 2010

NATCHEZ — Morgantown Elementary wants to be more than a school, and starting that dream may come true.

An after-school learning program kicks off today, mixing core education classes with lessons in enrichment and recreation.

The 21st Century Community Learning Center is a state-funded program under No Child Left Behind, and is part of a $473,000, five-year grant awarded to Morgantown last year.

Students can participate free of charge.

While the program focuses on classes such as math, science and language, it also offers students an opportunity to learn about different hobbies such as swimming, tennis, computers and photography.

“This is a community learning center,” Site Coordinator Aradia Sims said.

When school dismisses, participating students at the learning center are first served a snack. Homework time follows until 4:15.

From 4:15 to 5 p.m., students will attend their first class of the afternoon.

From 5 to 5:45 p.m. the student groups will change classes, thus allowing each group of students to experience a core and enrichment class every afternoon, Monday through Thursday.

Morgantown Principal Fred Marsalis said the learning center is an opportunity for the school to help its students excel inside and outside of the classroom.

“These are things that are going to move us to this next level,” Marsalis said. “You will see things coming into the school that we think you will be proud of.”

According to grant writer Ernest Palmer, the program is an opportunity to offer more personalized education to the students who attend the after school lessons.

“(The program) is designed to turn schools into community learning centers. It is designed to serve those with the greatest needs, not just the students but the families of the students as well,” Palmer said.

Palmer said parental feedback is a great factor in figuring out what is working for students in the program.

Attina Shaw, mother of Morgantown sixth grader Darian Shaw, said she’s looking forward to her daughter receiving re-enforcement in her studies.

“This program is a good opportunity for my daughter to focus in on school and any other weakness she has,” Shaw said.

“I just thought (the program) focused on school, but it’s going to give my child a lot of opportunities, and I’m excited for her and excited, myself.”

Darian Shaw, 12, said she is looking forward to becoming a stronger student — especially in the area of math.

“It’s going to help me at school and with bringing my grades up,” Darian said.

Parents interested in signing their children up for the program must fill out an application at the school and meet eligibility requirements.