Wiscasset schools, Parks and Rec partner for Wednesday after-school time

Fri, 09/16/2022 - 1:00pm

    Wiscasset Elementary School Administrative Assistant Nadine McCoy’s son Rowan, 6, got to see a lot of his friends after school Wednesday, Sept. 14 at Wiscasset Community Center. He had done WCC’s after school program occasionally last year. But now the WES first grader may become a Wednesday regular.

    “He seemed like he had a really nice time,” his mother said in a phone interview Sept. 15.

    Sept. 14 was the school department’s first, weekly early release day that offered pre-K through 12th grade students after school activities at WCC for free. Parks and Recreation Director Duane Goud told Wiscasset Newspaper the pre-K through fifth graders signed up will join in WCC’s After School Adventures program. According to information he and Superintendent of Schools Robert “Bob” England provided, the program has arts and crafts, open swimming, games from kickball to board games, plus hiking, homework time, fort and Lego building, dancing and, in poor weather, Movie Day. 

    “Programs are all about learning how to interact with one another while playing or working together, whether it be on a team or as an individual,” an announcement read. It states the school department will cover the one-time registration fee of $20 per child and, on Wednesdays only, also cover the cost to take part.

    McCoy said her son’s participation “works out perfectly for me, because I am his child care so without that I’d be scrambling, so it’s a really great resource for the school and the town to have.”

    Goud said while the younger students are in After School Adventures, sixth through 12th graders signed up to come to WCC after their early release Wednesdays will use day passes the school department will also cover. The students can use the gym and, if at least 14 years old, the fitness room, he said. Goud added in the phone interview Sept. 14, students seeking a spot to do homework are welcome daily, as they have been. They can come in for free and work at a table in the lobby; this can also be a choice for those on Wednesday’s day passes, he said.

    WES students will get to WCC by school bus; Wiscasset Middle High School students will walk next door to WCC, officials said.

    WES Principal Kathleen Pastore said in a phone interview after school Sept. 14, with the start of the free Wednesday programming, about 20 more students from there took part Sept. 14 than usual for After School Adventures. England expects the schools and WCC to know better what the participation will be after two or three Wednesdays. “There will be kinks to work out as this will be a new growing process,” he said via email.

    Pastore and other officials interviewed said the after school time at WCC will benefit students’ socio-emotional needs while staff use that early release time to work together on things that will also help serve students’ needs. England said it will help staff put into practice this year’s goal, Wiscasset Educational Collective Efficacy (WECE), or everyone assessing what is needed to help each student grow academically, socially and emotionally.

    Staff can collaborate, “so we’re all rowing the boat in the same direction,” Pastore explained about Wednesday’s early release. “I hate to give (that time) away, but teachers in the long run are going to be able to make a greater difference,” Pastore said. And for students to get that time at WCC “is a blessing and a bonus,” she said.

    The school department is tapping federal funds for the free early release Wednesday time at WCC. According to information England provided, the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) is providing nearly $122 billion to help schools safely reopen and run, and address the pandemic’s impacts on students.
    Just as England predicts kinks at first, Goud, too, expects “hiccups” until the number of regular takers is known. He is making sure to have enough counselors and has a ready group of them from this year’s summer camp.
    Goud said the early release partnership will enhance WCC’s after school program and be good for the community because families are getting to see the program firsthand for free. The announcement lists After School Adventures’ fees in case families want their children to take part daily. 

    England told Wiscasset Newspaper the school department could not have offered the Wednesday activities if not for WCC. “So, this is truly a team effort.”