Wanting to Stay after School Grant Helps U-46 Middle Schools Promote after School Learning

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Byline: Anna Johnson Daily Herald Staff Writer

Larsen Middle School's Community Outreach Coordinator Gina Crespo hopes the Elgin school becomes more than just school.

Instead, Crespo would like to see the school become more of a community center.

"I hope Larsen becomes more inviting and have kids and parents investing more in the school," Crespo said. "And make Larsen more than just a school from 8 to 3."

With help from the federal 21st Century Community Learning Grant, Larsen is in its second year of developing additional before- and after-school programs.

Along with Ellis Middle School in Elgin, the two schools received the three-year competitive grant last year. In its second year, the schools have a total of $185,500 to spend on supplies, teacher stipends and other materials for their after-school programs.

"The grant is ultimately meant to improve the academics of students and get parents involved," said Karen Fox, Elgin Area School District U-46's coordinator of grants and school/business partnerships. "And it's a good grant because it lets the schools make their own decisions."

Recently, both Ellis and Larsen highlighted their activities during a promotional event called "Lights of Afterschool!"

At Ellis, students participated in athletics, attended the Homework Club and Girls' Focus Group, and had an evening rollerskating party. …