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CMS before and after school programs cultivate success through relationships

For 7th and 8th grade students at Chisholm Middle School, the school day ends at 3:15pm. But for 30-50 students, depending on the day, the learning continues through "Railer Power Hour" and “Connections.”

From 3:15-5pm, students have the option to engage in after-school clubs that interest them: cooking, sketching, outdoor survival, eSports, photography and more.

Connections has been running for 4 years now and is currently made possible through ESSER dollars and teachers willing to spend extra hours each day with students fostering their interests.

Chisholm teachers Cindy Penner coordinates Railer Power Hour and Sara Ott coordinates Connections. They both schedule staff members and communicate to students about the options available to them.

8th grader Rylan Roach enjoys taking part in eSports, crochet and publishing clubs. On Monday, she was hard at work with two other students in ELA Teacher Madison Murphy’s room for the publishing club, which is working on a Chisholm magazine, called DeRailer. Rylan is in charge of finding things like games, puzzles, current events and weird facts to include in the magazine.

“I get to do stuff, make stuff, play stuff,” Rylan said.

Rylan calls Connections the best thing to do after school and has enjoyed building relationships with the staff that commit their time to the program. Notably, she says Ms. Murphy makes her laugh.

“It really makes me happy when I get to hang out with my friends and teachers. I don’t have to sit at home all bored and everything,” Rylan said.

In a different pod, 8th grader Lilith Jones worked hard at her crochet project in math teacher Meagan Moates’ room. Lilith learned to crochet from her mother three years ago but says doing the activity in Connections by herself or with other students gives her “a better perspective.”

She enjoys that she already knew many of her 8th grade teachers before the school year started because she met them and spent time with them as a 7th grader in Connections.

“So many great opportunities to meet new people and to make new friends,” Lilith said.

Another option for Chisholm students is “Railer Power Hour,” which provides a quiet place for students to work on homework and study before and after school with a staff member present. Railer Power Hour has been going for 8 years. Prior to ESSER dollars, it was funded by the Kansas After School Enhancement Grant (KASEG).