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After school program for at-risk students defunded at local middle school

Posted at 6:05 AM, Jun 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-18 07:18:54-04

LANSING, Mich. — The Reaching Higher program at Leslie Middle School has been defunded after 10 years.

Reaching Higher is an after school program for at-risk students in middle school that provides academic and social behavior assistance.

The program at Leslie Middle School has been funded for 10 years, but the federal grant that keeps the program afloat was cut by $2 million this year.

Out of the nine schools that offer the Reaching Higher program, Leslie Middle School was the only one to be defunded.

Brian Philson, President and CEO of Highfields, who oversees the Reaching Higher program said, "Leslie's program has been doing really well with testing scores. They don't have a lot of students falling to at-risk needing. So in essence we worked ourselves out of a job because they didn't qualify for all of the bonus and priority scores other schools had."

Reaching Higher provides at-risk students with academic, social, and behavioral help after school and in the summer.

Over 600 students have benefited from this program.

The grant has an initiative to increase a students grade by half a letter grade.

The program is made up of a variety of students.

Some students are failing their classes and need help academically while other students are on honor roll and need help socially.

Dan Bright, Springport Middle School Site-coordinator said this program is really helpful to students because they can help each other out.

Bright said, "Sometimes the honor roll students are good with the books but they're not with people. And at-risk students may not be so good with the books but they maybe have great people skills."

During their time at Reaching Higher the students will spend time working on their homework.

Primarily focusing on English and math, however the teachers will also spend time with the students to help them with science and social studies.

When the students are done with their academic time, they spend a portion of their day playing games and participating in team building exercises to help socialize the students, as well as help with any behavioral issues they may have.

The students will learn computer skills as well as learn how to cook, as just some of the life skills they can develop.

Now, parents are trying to figure out what they're going to do next year without this program.

Curt Wright a Leslie Middle School parent said, "We're not sure what the second half of summer is going to look like, it's going to be different."

In addition to academic and social help the students also are fed one meal and a snack.

"From a parents standpoint that's going to be a huge hole for these students to fill, particularly for single parents who are working and the fact we help their student with homework and they come home having had dinner and homework done, that been a great advantage for them," said Philson.

To end the year on a high note for Leslie Reaching Higher students, they will be going on a camping trip in Northern Michigan coming up in June.

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