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Boys & Girls Clubs gets funds to extend services to relocated Fair Street school
Rassie Littlejohn, right, studies while Patsy Moorehead helps Perswaysia Rucker, seated, with her homework Wednesday at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County. The homework tutoring is one of the programs that will be offered at the clubs’ extension site at the Fair Street/Woods Mill campus. - photo by Tom Reed

When Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School moved to the Wood's Mill campus this year, it became difficult for students to go to the Boys & Girls Clubs after school.

A new partnership between the organization and Gainesville City Schools, however, aims to change that.

"Gainesville City Schools will partner with them to offer an extension site at Fair Street," Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said in an email to The Times. "The afterschool program will operate at the Wood's Mill campus until the new Fair Street is open."

The extension site is part of a $30,000 grant from Boys & Girls Clubs of America that allows the clubs' staff to use the school as another club site, essentially extending the services Fair Street students would have gotten at the club's site on Downey Boulevard near the school.

Steve Mickens, chief professional officer for Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County, said a lot of students at Fair Street went to the location on Downey after school, but with students being on the new campus, it has decreased the amount who are able to come.

"Now Fair Street is an opportunity for us to extend the club beyond our walls," he said.

The new Fair Street site will serve a minimum of 50 kids. It will open either right before the start of winter break or as soon as school begins in January, Mickens said.

The clubs focus on five core areas: character development, arts, health and life skills, education and careers and sports and recreation, Mickens said.

Clubs officials found out about the grant only recently and immediately went to work identifying what services could be provided.

"At the site there's going to be a real focus on homework assistance and physical fitness," Mickens said.

This is the first attempt to provide the service in the school, Mickens said.

The only comparable program is a program with Fair Street, Gainesville Exploration Academy and Lyman Hall Elementary School where clubs staff meet during the day with students to promote physical activity.

Mickens said this is their way of taking that program up another level.

"A special focus of the extension site will be to work with children and families on early literacy," Dyer said. "The extension site will focus on the kindergarten through grade two group for this purpose."

She said Fair Street will continue to operate the 21st Century Learning Center after-school program for grades third through fifth as well.

"The two programs together will collaborate to serve students K through five and their families as we focus on early literacy initiatives," Dyer said.

The Fair Street extension will be located in several of the school's classrooms and possibly the cafeteria and gymnasium.
"It makes it a lot more feasible for parents, who can just pick their kids up from there," Mickens said. "If this works out, we'll look at the possibility of extending it to other schools."

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