Boys & Girls Club to fill literacy gap

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Students soon can get an extra dose of reading and writing after the school bell rings, thanks to a new literacy program through the Boys & Girls Club of Craig.

Starting Oct. 1, students in first through fourth grades can receive one-hour, bi-weekly lessons at the club through a cooperative effort with representatives from the Moffat County School District.

"We're looking at this being a fun activity, something a little different from the classroom," said Jim Rugh, former principal at Sunset Elementary School, who is spearheading the effort.

School district and club organizers are launching the literacy program to offer students additional instruction that will complement schoolwork and, hopefully, increase student success and district scores. Participants can earn "club bucks" or coupons toward earning prizes at the club.

District literacy coordinators and other school representatives will contribute to the effort, Rugh said, and students' progress will be tracked.

Moffat County School District Superintendent Pete Bergmann said the additional instruction should help the district increase its scores on required accountability tests through the president's No Child Left Behind Act. But that correlation may not be immediately apparent.

"We know that additional time and support definitely can have an impact," Bergmann said. "We struggle at school because kids take PE, music and art, which are all important. Research says that targeted time to help improve literacy works."

Already Boys & Girls Club members are required to commit about 45 minutes a day to working on homework. Other homework assistance is available through the Recreational Aft--erschool Doorway program during after school hours in the gymnasium at the Craig Intermediate School.

The club also has started offering free dinners at 5 p.m. to children members, in a program called Kids Cafe. Meals are United States Department of Agriculture approved and provided by the Food Bank of Rockies through a grant by the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority.

"We really feel that if a child has a full stomach, if we feed their bodies, hopefully their minds will follow," club director Pres Askew said.

Any child -- regardless of whether he or she is a club member -- can participate in the literacy program. Membership to the club is $10 a year.

"The district put in a lot of effort to really make this a community program not just a district program," Rugh said.

For more information, call the Boys & Girls Club of Craig at 826-0411.

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