ROSELLE, NJ – Three borough schools, with students in grades 3-6, will be the center of a “21st Century Community Learning Center” grant, serving 350 low-income students.

Interim Schools Superintendent James C. Baker announced this week that Roselle schools have been awarded a $550,000 state grant for a comprehensive after-school and summer program at Leonard V. Moore Middle School, Harrison Elementary School, and Dr. Charles C. Polk Elementary School.

We will run the program for the entire school year and four weeks of the summer recess, concluding July 19, of next year,” he explained, adding the long-term goal is to offer the program for a full five years, pending annual grant renewals.

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The Roselle 21st CCLC Program extends the school day and year by integrating standards-based curricular content into rigorous after-school instruction. An innovative, evidence-based enrichment program supplements remediation activities to engage students; improves basic and critical thinking skills; raises test scores; and improves attendance, discipline, and parent and community involvement, Dr. Baker said.

The project is a direct response to significant socio-economic challenges in the community as well as academic performance indicators.

In Roselle, 25 percent of all children live below the poverty level; the median household income of $46,118 is just 63 percent of the statewide average of $73,702. Within the target grades 3-6 population, an average of 80 percent of students are classified as economically disadvantaged and 70 percent of students do not score at least proficient in Language Arts Literacy and Mathematics.

The Roselle schools are partnering with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, a nonprofit organization that will incorporate a Visual and Performing Arts theme at each school to complement and enrich six required program components. The program provides a wide array of activities that include academic remediation; academic enrichment; cultural and artistic programs; positive youth development activities; health, nutrition, fitness, and physical activities; and parental and community involvement.

The program is supported through a robust coalition of collaborators including the Gateway Family YMCA, the Community Foodbank of New Jersey, Prevention Links, and the Roselle Public Library.

“At each of the sites, students participate in an Arts Integration Program designed to engage them in the creation and design of their own musical compositions and visual representations of their learning,” Dr. Baker said. “This project-based approach encourages students to stay engaged in the learning process while also making it fun and interesting.”

Teachers and Artists-in-Residence use music, dance, theater, and visual arts to reinforce core curriculum topics including English, Language Arts, and Mathematics, he added.

Roselle school officials believe the program will boost academic performance, improve school day behavior, develop core character values, create opportunities for student engagement, and connect the academic environment to the broader community.

“We believe these project-based enrichment activities encourage students to work collaboratively, think critically and develop and employ 21st Century skills that are increasingly becoming prerequisites for success in our global society,” Dr. Baker added.

This project was funded in its entirety with federal funds under the Every Student Succeeds Act, Title IV, Part B, 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program, through a grant agreement with the New Jersey Department of Education.

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