Federal grant gives needed boost to after-school program

Rebecca Lamb (WCIV)

by Stacy

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- El'Nishaad Gathers, 14,{}actually enjoys staying three extra hours a day at school.

"I think it's a privilege," he said.

The eighth grade student started going to the after-school program at Sanders Clyde Elementary and Middle School{}this year. He said he had a B and C average before he started the program.

"It's going upward to an A and B level. I'm proud of myself," he said.

But, until January, the after-school program wasn't funded. Teachers volunteered their time.

Now, Sanders Clyde Elementary and Middle School is one of 22 schools in the state to get a federal community learning center grant. It will receive $200,000 a year for up to four years.

It's essential to student achievement because it extends their learning throughout the day," Principal Anthony Dixon said.{}"They're either being able to re-teach skills they've missed, or enhance skills they already have."

The program stepped in for the now-closed Boys and Girls Clubs, he said.

"It's not only filling the gap but enhancing it," Dixon said.

Aside from extending schoolwork, the program kept students in a safe environment at school. It also gave them dinner and a few "off-the-mark" enrichment activities.

"Each day we have a group from seven to nine kids that are intensely engaged in guitar," coordinator Gwen White said.

White runs the program.{}They also do activities like zumba and making sweet grass baskets, she said.

White said she was proud it helped students like El'Nishaad see the big picture.

"I like what I'm doing because it's helping the majority of students here to do better and have a better chance to go to college," he said.

El'Nishaad wanted to be a basketball player or{}a graphic designer, he said.

The federal government awarded the grant to{}five other Lowcountry schools: St. Stephen Elementary in Berkeley County, Haut Gap Middle in Charleston County, Colleton County Middle and{}Alston and River Oaks Middle Schools{}in Dorchester District 2.

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