Just a little over a year ago, news that Estherville Lincoln Central would have Wednesday early outs to accommodate teacher professional development time was met with panic.
However, churches, nonprofits and the school itself stepped up to offer after-school programs to keep kids engaged. Two of those entities - YMCA of the Okobojis and the Regional Wellness Center - told about the programs they offered over the past school year and their success.
Norm Johnson, YMCA CEO, said the Y after-school program first covered both Demoney and Roosevelt, averaging 19 students a week and offering games, sports and field trips to facilities such as the RWC and Camp Foster - an outing attracting 40.
Kyle Johnson, who conducted the after-school program at Demoney, noted a pretty consistent group of kids. He said a little larger space would help improve the program for next year.
"All in all it was a great first year for us," Kyle said.
After Jan. 8, the Y started bussing students from Roosevelt to Demoney. When the question came up as to if it would have been better to bus to Roosevelt, elementary principal Shane Kalous said the program would have lost some of the kindergarten kids if they had gone there. "Overall I thought it worked pretty well," Kalous agreed.
RWC director Bob Grems said the Energizers Plus program running five days a week had an average of 41-49 students participating.
The program ran from 1:10-5:15 on Wednesdays and from after school until 5:15 the other days. Costs were tailored to family needs and scholarship assistance went to families getting free and reduced lunches. Staff members were sent to Roosevelt, as needed and on Tuesdays and Thursdays students were shuttled to the library where they got homework help until 4:15 followed by themed activities in separate groups for younger and older kids.
Grems said program assistance came from a $7,500 Emmet County Community Foundation grant. He said the library will not be a partner next year and the RWC is looking for another partner for Tuesdays and Thursdays.