New program offers after-school enrichment for students

New program offers after-school enrichment for students

Students at Birchwood and Ricci Middle Schools will soon have access to a pilot Kids Klub program that, under the leadership of Director Caroline Hardman, center, will arrange critical thinking and creative enrichment activities. Kids Klub personnel are, from left, Rebecca Compton, marketing director; Jillian Fain, executive director; Hardman; Mary Ann Shallcross Smith, owner; and Wendi Berman, director. (Breeze photo by Meghan Kavanaugh)
Birchwood, Ricci families invited to launch event Feb. 12

NORTH PROVIDENCE - In a program set to the be the first of its kind from the Kids Klub organization, a new after-school program for the town's middle schoolers will begin this month, giving the tweens and teens an outlet for both academic and creative enrichment.

The kids themselves will help name the program, which will be held at Birchwood Middle School starting the week of Feb. 24, after February vacation, Monday through Friday from 2 to 6 p.m. Ricci Middle School students who enroll will be bused to Birchwood.

Kids Klub, owned by Mary Ann Shallcross Smith of Dr. Day Care, already hosts after-school programs for each of the district's elementary schools, but the middle school program will offer something a bit different.

Director Caroline Hardman began working at Birchwood a few weeks ago, after a survey of parents was conducted with favorable results and the program was approved by administration.

Hardman's office "on campus" as a mentor allows her to be a presence in the school community to get to know students and what they are learning in class and how the after-school program can align to the Common Core State Standards.

"Our main focus is to extend the school day," said Kids Klub Executive Director Jillian Fain. "It's an extension of the school day to compliment what's going on in the classroom."

The program will provide the positive guidance, socialization and reflection time for the middle schoolers, Hardman said, who are most in need of positive leadership as they transition into young adults.

Kids may construct a Rube Goldberg machine that creates an elaborate chain reaction to perform a simple task, like turning on a light switch, one day, and then meet a professional engineer the next, she explained. Perhaps those who enjoy art will create a mural dedicated to scenes of North Providence.

Students will also take an active role in guiding the direction of the program to encompass their interests.

"We're calling it student-led," Hardman said. "They have a very strong voice in how this is going to play out."

A focus will also be made on engaging with the community through community service projects or mentoring opportunities "to help build good citizenship," she said.

Enrollment is offered with three options:

* Silver Tier - $15 per day or $75 per week; students engage in homework time, open recreation time and a wide range of self-led enrichment activities.

* Gold Tier - $35 per six-week session in addition to a Silver enrollment, which adds access to approximately 10-12 in-depth enrichments led by an instructor. Guided activities will include game design, martial arts, community art projects, creative writing workshops and dance.

* In addition, there will be open enrollment for all students, even those without a membership, to attend off-site field trips for the cost of the event. Trips will take place about every six weeks for activities like rock climbing, golfing, bowling and visiting places like museums and Hasbro.

A free launch event will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 12, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Birchwood library, 10 Birchwood Drive, for all Birchwood and Ricci families to get a glimpse into how the program will run.

This "Family Science and Art Event" will allow parents and students to participate in four science-related activities and four activities focusing on art and creativity to showcase the fun critical thinking opportunities.

Families may be asked to build a table out of newspaper that will support a textbook, or sculpt town landmarks out of clay.

"It's an example of exactly what to expect," Hardman said. "It should speak for itself."

Parents will also have a chance to speak with the Kids Klub staff who will run the program, and pick up enrollment packages.

Many families are expected to qualify to have tuition paid through the Department of Human Services, so parents are encouraged to apply, Hardman said.

Contact Hardman at birchwood@kidsklubri.com or 401-692-0066 for more information.