'Their smile says it all': New Prairie Schools resume after-school clubs

NOW: ’Their smile says it all’: New Prairie Schools resume after-school clubs

NEW CARLISLE, Ind. -  Ordinary activities are made challenging when keeping students safety in mind. Everything from learning inside a classroom to kicking a soccer ball out on the field - it’s different and there are added safety procedures.

So this week on The Learning Curve our team is heading back to New Prairie United School Corporation to see how after school clubs are changing with the times.

“I think sometimes it's an area of enrichment that gets overlooked and it's such an important piece of their overall educational experience," Erika Buhring, the After-School Program Enrichment Coordinator said. “We have a nice variety of all sorts of different programs. So the after school clubs really focus on a combination of homework help, healthy programming, so nutrition and fitness. But we also lego club, girls on the run dream chaser. So quite a few options,”

There are over 350 students participating in after-school clubs and activities that are non-sport related. That is out of just about 3,000 students in the district.

“For some of these kids, it's an opportunity for them to get the schoolwork done here, and then be kids at home, as opposed to going from school to doing schoolwork at home that either gets caught up or to just do the things that still need to be done for the day," Tim Flanagan a school counselor and teacher for the after-school program said.

"So it makes a huge impact on their lives and the lives of the families also within the community. There's a lot of research that shows when kids are engaged after school, then they're not out doing other things. But it also really increases their test scores and increases kind of their critical thinking skills as well as keeping them healthy," Buhring said.

If you go inside Prairie View Elementary, it's hard not to hear laughter, the pitter-patter of footsteps and loud talking at one of the fitness after-school clubs.

“They are so excited. They love between before and after school. So you know, everything from the snack that they're getting into what they're learning, the fitness, they love, running around and doing some extra activities to get some of that energy out," Buhring said.

When asked what their favorite part of the fitness club is, students had a wide array of answers.

“I get to do my homework and not at home," one student said.

“Being with friends and stuff and stuff that we could do in like the gym or outside," another student said.

In the education help club, it's all about not getting behind in school work.

“Honestly, it's just like moving along. And it's like, you could do this and get better. Like when she tells us once, it would just make more sense, because sometimes you get confused," one student said.

In the nutrition club, it's all about making healthy snacks. Today the kids are making monsters out of apple, peanut butter, and marshmallows.

"Not my first treat," One student said. "It's a four-eyed spider monster"

But as schools have had to shut down and reopen, there were worries as to if the clubs would cease to exist this year.

“Yes. I'm glad that it wasn't the case. But towards the beginning, yeah," Flanagan said.

“We weren't really worried we have a very generous grant that we received from the health care foundation of Laporte. So that really helped in terms of kind of the monetary aspect of making sure we could provide extra things," Buhring said. "So having separate stations for all of the students, so they didn't have to share things like markers or Ipads, things like that. So that helped a lot. And in terms of the extra cleaning protocols, those were already in place during the day. So you really could replicate what they did during the day very well to have it after school.”

Some students were nervous that the club wasn't going to run this year at all because of the coronavirus

“We didn't have to close anything, I think through the cares act, and then other funding. And as I said, the health care foundation, the money was there to help make sure that it was safe and would thrive," Buhring said.

But the clubs are open and the teachers eager to re-socialization many who were missing that in their daily lives.

“Yes, there are definitely some kids that are thriving a lot better. With it, it's just kind of a less stressful situation for these kids just to be with with kids are aging and interacting and talking with each other," Flanagan said.

“Their smile says it all a picture's worth 1000 words, but they're so excited to see their friends, to see the teachers to be learning again," Buhring said.

The team is heading to other schools to see if they are undergoing the same changes and the full report is coming this Thursday at 6.

As always email us if you have any questions or concerns regarding a school in your area. [email protected].

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