Fairview after hours picks up steam

From the first day the Fairview Junior High after-school program opened its doors in November, it was flooded with students.

“I actually anticipated that it would be smaller, but we started out with a bang,” said program coordinator Nicole Settelmeyer.

The free program runs four days a week and combines an hour of tutoring with an hour of recreation. Students say they have benefited from the extra time at school.

“My grades are better because I am actually doing my homework now,” said ninth-grader Jenifer Thomas, who attends four times a week.

Alex Cole, an eighth-grader, goes twice a week because he enjoys the Web page design course. Already interested in computers, Cole said the things he has learned have helped him build a 24-page site.

“I learned how to put in images, links, background colors, text and I am starting to learn Java Script,” Cole said.

Forty to 50 students now attend regularly, Settelmeyer said, and activities include pottery, oil painting, Web design, calligraphy, cardio and strength training, math enrichment and board games. On Thursdays, there are field trips or movies.

“Not every student is interested in athletics, and this program brings in other high-interest areas,” said Kathy Wales, Fairview Junior High principal.

The program’s goals are to provide role models and academic support, Wales said, and to give students a constructive place to socialize.

“It is a safe place for them to be after school,” Settelmeyer said. “Some of them would be home by themselves, otherwise.”

The program is funded by a $327,000 federal grant from the 21st Century Community Learning Center, with the money to be divided over three years, Wales said.

One of the biggest challenges the school faces will be how to continue after the money dries up.

“That is our job, through the advisory board, to consider what our next steps will be,” Wales said. “We have to think ahead because people will depend on the program.”

Fairview was chosen for the grant because it already had forged relationships with the YMCA and the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority, according to Renee Overath, community education specialist for the Central Kitsap School District.

The program employs five assistants and 10 teachers, according to Settelmeyer.

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