By LESLIE MIELKE
BLACKFOOT — Students who attend the after-school program at Wapello Elementary visited the Blackfoot Public Library Monday afternoon.
Students attending Wapello Elementary, Fort Hall Elementary and the Independence Alternative High School can participate in this after-school program.
"Wapello and Fort Hall are rural schools," Wapello program coordinator Joy Mickelsen. "We do not have a plethora of books.
"Less than one-third of the students in the after-school had been to the Blackfoot Public Library," Mickelsen said.
"We have 60,000 volumes in the library, so there should be something here that interests you," librarian Brenda Wilcox told the children.
This is the second visit to the library for students from the Wapello after-school program.
"On our first visit, each student was given a book to keep," Mickelsen said.
At Wapello Elementary, 60 students participate in the after-school program; at Fort Hall Elementary, 30 students take part.
"The after-school program at Fort Hall Elementary is full," Mickelsen said.
Both elementary schools coordinate their programs, so students participate in the various activities at different times.
"We reinvented ourselves to get this 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant," said Mickelsen. "We have much more community participation."
As part of the 21st Century grant, Wapello after-school students visit the library every other week. Students will also be taken to the Blackfoot swimming pool and the Blackfoot Medical Center.
Other activities include 4-H. Debbie White from the Extension Service comes to the Wapello school to conduct 4-H projects, Mickelsen said. The Broncadettes come to teach dance; students from "We the People" present peer monitoring and Paula Maldonado teaches Spanish at Wapello.
The Shoshone language is taught in the after-school program at Fort Hall. The Blackfoot High School Indian Club teaches dance at Fort Hall.
Esperanzo Taylor is the coordinator of the 21st Century grant at Fort Hall.
Students in the after-school program at Fort Hall participate in similar programs but at different times.
Mickelsen and Mark and Holly Karchner wrote this grant.
The Learning Connection is the title of the 21st Century grant committee in the Blackfoot School District. The Idaho Department of Education awarded the sum of $238,430 each year for three years. In year four, the recipients receive 90 percent of the grant amount. In year five, they receive 80 percent of the grant money.
Eight school districts in the state received money from this grant.
Students participating in the Independence Alternative High School after-school program can receive probationary hours and do community service projects, Mickelsen said. They can recover credits and create a business portfolio.
Parents can also complete their General Education Development (GED) diploma.
"All the stuff we offer kids is free," Mickelsen said. "This is a good program; it will change kids."