Pilot program at school could be precursor to a new club
September 25, 2015
News Staff Writer
GARDNER A pilot program of the Boys and Girls Club is set to open at Gardner Middle School this November, giving students a place to go after school.
“We wanted to start some sort of an after-school program at the middle school,” said school Superintendent Denise Clemons. “A lot of people have worked hard to make this happen.”
For the past few years, local officials including Mayor Mark Hawke and Mount Wachusett Community College President Daniel Asquino have been working to bring a Boys and Girls club to Gardner. This is the first step in making that happen.
“This is one little program we hope we can build off,” said Mr. Hawke.
The program will serve about 20 students in grades five through seven, according to Ms. Clemons, and activities will be related to science, technology, mathematics and engineering. Most likely, it will feed the high school’s robotics program, started last year.
Details are still being arranged between Ms. Clemons and Donata Martin, the executive director of the Fitchburg and Leominster Boys and Girls Club. Ms. Martin has agreed to help guide the school district in the process.
“We look forward to working on this,” said Ms. Martin. “We really want to create a fun learning environment for the after-school program.”
The Fitchburg and Leominster Boys and Girls Club – which has been operating since 2001 – will provide the oversight for the budding Gardner club. They hope to bring robotics, oceanography and some arts programming to the schools.
Mr. Hawke said he was “very grateful” for the insight and expertise Ms. Martin will provide in setting up the program.
Right now, officials are still trying to decide who will head the school’s pilot program as well as whether students will meet at the high school or middle school among other details.
The real key, however, will be figuring out how to make it financially sustainable.
“We had a group of donors who were committed to Gardner and wanted to start this initiative,” said Ms. Clemons, which is how the pilot was funded. Moving forward, officials hope to develop other sources of revenue.
“We hope the community will embrace and support it,” said Mr. Hawke.
The Boys and Girls Club is a national nonprofit organization that aims to help young people, especially those living in trying circumstance, achieve their full potential. The programs include after-school activities, mentoring, arts, sports, leadership building, and lifestyle education. For more information about the program coming to Chair City, visit gardnerk12.org.