The school day is about to be extended for approximately 300 city students.

On Nov. 10, the New Castle school district will begin a new after-school program — Cultivating and Nurturing Excellent Students, to be known as CANES.

The program is funded through a $390,000 21st Century Grant, which the district obtained through the U.S. Department of Education.

In addition to the after-school sessions, the program will include a six-week summer component.

Superintendent John Sarandrea said participating students will have a “power hour” of supervised homework and tutoring. They will “steam” through the second hour participating in science, technology, engineering, art and math enrichment programs, be served dinner, then be delivered to their homes.

The program will stretch the school day for these youngsters from 8:30 a.m. to 6 or 6:30 p.m.

Preparing for the start of the program, the board hired Jan Mancino of Hermitage at a special meeting this week.

Mancino, to be paid $45,000 a year plus benefits, will direct the program. Her salary will be paid through the grant.

“This will be a game changer for our district,” Sarandrea said.

Participants will be 200 youngsters in grades three to six, who will meet at George Washington Intermediate Elementary School, and about 100 seventh- and eighth- graders, at the high school.

Students of the two non-public schools within the New Castle district — St. Vitus and the Christian Academy — also are eligible to participate.

School officials are contacting parents of the students who have been selected to explain the program.

“Participation is data-driven,” said Debra DeBlasio, assistant to the superintendent. “The students were selected based on state testing results or recommended by teachers.

“Our goal is to see growth, to get students the remedial help they need.”

The program also offers a “credit recovery” component for grades nine through 12, Sarandrea said. This is for students, who have fallen behind in credits needed for graduation, and who will be given the opportunity to catch up. This portion will begin in January.

Now, if a student does not pass English one year, Sarandrea explained, he or she must take two English classes the following year. The new program will give them the opportunity to catch up and graduate with their class.

Sarandrea said the district applied for the grant in August.

“On Oct. 1, we were notified we would receive $390,000 for the next three years.”

Sarandrea noted New Castle is the first district in Lawrence County to receive the grant, which he said is based on need.

He added a similar program had been offered in the Sharon school district prior to and while he served as superintendent there.

The program will change daily to keep the youngsters interested, but will follow the same overall plan, he said.

Students will receive a snack, have social time, participate in the homework and tutoring segment and enrichment hour, eat dinner and be taken home by bus.

Students will be “kept engaged” with fun outings and opportunities as well as schoolwork,” DeBlasio noted.

“We will be partnering with area agencies,” she said. “Our prime partner will be the Hoyt Institute, which will introduce our students to things we can’t give them.”

This will include arts and cultural opportunities, including trips to museums outside the area.

Exhibits from the Pittsburgh Science Center will fill the gym with science experiments from time to time. Students also will participate in gym and the interactive gym program the district began this year with a $900,000 federal Fit4Life grant.

Others partnering with the district to offer programs and workshops for students and their parents include: the New Castle Playhouse, the New Castle library, Adult Literacy of Lawrence County, Children’s Advocacy Center, Lawrence County adult and juvenile probation departments, Lawrence County Community Action Partnership, Lawrence County Drug and Alcohol, Lawrence County Children and Youth Services, New Castle police and the Primary Health Care Network.

(Email: nlowry@ncnewsonline.com)

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