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Innovative After-School Program Gets Boost at South Gwinnett

After-school program aimed to help students graduate is set to begin a new year.

South Gwinnett High School recently received a 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant aimed to provide for the high school’s after-school program FUTURE.

FUTURE is not any ordinary after-school program.

Clay Hunter, the principal at t, started it all. And, the program recently received more than $270,000 to fund the first year of a three-year of then 21st Century grant. . Subsequent grant funding will be determined by its success this coming year.

“He came across the idea by seeing students hanging out after school,” said Alexcia Cooper, the program director for FUTURE.

“He asked them why they were hanging around the school instead of getting on the bus and going home. The students told him their parents were not at home and they didn’t want to go home and get bored. They also wanted to stay out of trouble.”

This gave Hunter the idea to start a program for these teens. He shared his idea with , which helped fund the program. Other churches that connected and still provide resources are and . The planning began in the fall of 2009 and was launched in January of 2010.

The program originally began for any student who wanted to join. At that time they only met two days a week. Now, with the new grant, South Gwinnett has been able to expand the program to three hours a day, four days a week. However, the program now is focused on students who are at risk for not graduating. They take in the first 150 students.

Two courses that FUTURE provides are Credit Recovery and School Plus. Credit Recovery is a 24-hour course that allows students to retake a class where they received between a 60-69 percent.  School Plus is a 72-hour course that allows a student to retake a class where they received lower than a 60 percent.  Both of these courses are offered at no cost to a student in the FUTURE program.

Other items offered by FUTURE are free tutoring, test preparation, snacks, transportation home and enrichment activities such as Zumba, culinary arts and Tae Kwon Do.

More than 100 parents and students attended the FUTURE orientation held at South Gwinnett on Tuesday night.

Mike Garrett, The senior pastor at Westminster Presbyterian, spoke at the orientation.

“How many of you love math?” asked Garrett.” How many love English? How many of you want to be a success in whatever you do in life?”

The room was full of raised hands.

“I’m not saying you have to great at math or English to be a successful person. I am saying that sometimes there is a gap between what we really want and how hard we’re going to have to work to get there,” he said.

Traci Malloy, one of the site coordinators for the program, also attended the orientation.

“The program is good because it not only allows students to make up credits but it also allows them to graduate,” Malloy said. ”When I was in school you could just go to summer school, take a class, get your credit and go on. Now there’s a charge for it.

"With the economy the way that it is it’s hard to pay 200 dollars for one class. We have a lot of students who have failed more than one class. It could be 400, 600 dollars for summer school. The grant allows students to come free.”

The school is also holding both the students and parents accountable in this program. Any unexcused absence result in a phone call home to the parent. Parents are encouraged to attend two parent workshops during the year.

“What is important to me is how the community rose to the occasion,” Cooper said. “They really wanted to help the students exceed.”

The program is set to begin this year on September 6th.

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