Arizona Republic
September 10, 2007

(Phoenix, AZ)


Author: Audrie Garrison, The Arizona Republic

Estimated printed pages: 2
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Children at three more Paradise Valley schools are benefiting from a grant to fund programs for schools with low-income students.
Arrowhead Elementary School, Echo Mountain Primary School and Echo Mountain Intermediate School received the 21st Century Grant, which aims to help students meet academic standards, provide enrichment programs to students and offer literacy services, among other things. The district will receive a total of $1.5 million over the next five years for the three schools.

The schools will join Palomino Elementary School, which is already a 21st Century Community Learning Center site.

"Getting the 21st Century Grant is big," said Diane Silvestri, principal of Arrowhead Elementary School. "It's an incredible opportunity for our students and their families."

To be eligible for the grant, a large number of the school's students must qualify to receive free or reduced lunch based on their parents' incomes. Silvestri said about 80 percent of Arrowhead's students do.

Palomino has had the grant for four years, said site coordinator Molly Kemp. Programs they have implemented with the money include leadership and community service programs for children, English lessons and life skills classes for adults. Though she has few hard statistics at this point to back up the program's progress, she said she can see a change in the children's attitudes as a result.

"For us, one of our goals is to really let the kids know what their future can hold for them," Kemp said. "A lot of them don't have that on the homefront. And even though during the school day the teachers talk about this, they don't really have a chance to dig in and show the kids what their future can entail."

Cindy Daniels, who is beginning her first year as principal at Echo Mountain Primary School, said they will use the grant to become a community center.

"When you have a 21st Century, your community becomes a community hub," Daniels said. "People start looking at you in a different light, you're able to offer so much more."

Daniels said Echo Mountain Primary is looking to use the money for a before- and after-school program. Echo Mountain will receive $120,000 for its first year.

As part of the 190-page grant application, applicants had to list their goals for their students' success. Besides becoming a community "hub," Daniels said her goal for the grant is to form more partnerships and to meet the social, emotional and academic needs of every child.

Silvestri said she hopes to strengthen the leadership and social skills of her students by increasing already-existing programs. They already have an after-school care program and even Saturday school classes, but the grant could help improve them, she said.

A version of this article may have appeared in your community Republic.
Edition:  Final Chaser
Section:  VALLEY & State
Page:  B4
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Record Number:  pho174960615