Rantoul City Schools expands after-school program

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RANTOUL, Ill. (WCIA) – Rantoul City Schools announced on Tuesday that it is expanding its K-5 after-school program for the 2021-2022 school year.

The ability for RCS to expand its program comes from a $450,000 federal grant the school district received this year. Previously, after-school activities were limited to just J.W. Eater Junior High School and Broadmeadow Elementary School.

Now students at Northview, Eastlawn and Pleasant Acres Elementary schools can enjoy after-school activities as well.

“We are so excited to be able to expand our after-school programming. Now, all five of our schools will have a high-quality after-school option for students,” said RCS Superintendent Scott Woods. “The funds from this grant creates a huge opportunity for educating our students and building our community.”

The expanded after-school program is known as ExPLORES (Experimental Playing and Learning of Rantoul Elementary Students). The program consists of several six-week sessions during the school year for K-5 students at Northview, Eastlawn and Pleasant Acres. At the end of each session, parents will be invited to a pizza party to learn about what their children did in the previous six weeks.

The goal is to engage students in STEAM areas – science, technology, engineering, art and math. But the new after-school activities aren’t meant to repeat what children learn during the day.

“I think the biggest thing is making it different from what happens during the school day, getting students exposed to things that maybe they normally wouldn’t,” said Jennifer Frerichs, RCS Assistant Superintendent. “We’re hoping to do things like cooking classes and even just silly things like crocheting. We’re hoping that by doing that, it’ll really draw students to come and participate on a regular basis.”

A trial run at Pleasant Acres produced classes like “Getting to Know Your SRO,” in which the school resource officer presents his equipment and brings a few police cars to school for students to look inside. Another class uses virtual reality goggles to take virtual field trips to anywhere on and beyond Earth, including outer space.

“It’s really been quite fun seeing the different things that people are coming up with,” Frerichs said.

Parents can contact their child’s school office to enroll their child in after-school classes.

The school is also looking for volunteers for the community who are willing to share their hobbies, skills and talents with the students. Anyone interested in leading a session should call 217-893-5400.

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