Pearl River Central Safe Harbor

Published 9:21 pm Friday, February 16, 2007

Many schools have been taking advantage of the Safe Harbor after school program, and Pearl River Central is one of those reaping the benefits.

The program takes place from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday at Pearl River Central Elementary and Middle School. The program, funded in part by the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation through the Poplarville Rotary Club, is offered to children in grades K through eight, and is filled to capacity.

“The Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation has been a strong supporter of educating children in Pearl River County and neighboring counties through the National Recreation Foundation and the Poplarville Rotary Club,” said PRC Assistant Superintendent Nina Guthrie.

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There are 138 children in the program that focuses on remedial skills, she said. Part of the success of the program is the teachers who conduct the everyday operations of the program.

“We have some really good teachers that are staying and putting time into this program,” Guthrie said.

Remedial help is offered in math, language arts and reading. A computer program reinforces the program’s lessons and keeps the children’s skills up.

“It’s an additional way of applying the same skills,” Guthrie said. “Some kids learn better through technology than one on one.”

Teachers involved in the program also are trained in the Save the Children program that not only helps children with their school work but also focuses on some mental issues the children may have, Guthrie said. That part of program incorporates music and games, said Dawn Bechtel with the Poplarville school district.

“What you are trying to do is teach the whole child,” Guthrie said. “Safe Harbor has been one of the most beneficial programs for the students in Pearl River Central, especially with everything they have faced since the storm.”

Some students remain in Federal Emergency Management temporary housing and look forward to spending time at school. Guthrie said children who participate in the arts do better in school.

Whether the school will hold the summer camp under the same name, Safe Harbor, is up in the air since it will be based on the amount of available funding. The program is free to the students, Guthrie said.

Students are given snacks everyday they attend the program.Funding for the snacks comes in part from the U.S. Department of Child Nutrition, but was being paid for out of the teachers’ pockets, Guthrie said.

Students are getting all the help they can out of the program. Sixth grade student Dominick Bertucci said his grades in spelling have increased three letter grades.

“It’s helping me a lot more because I can get my homework done,” Bertucci said.

Before, Bertucci said his parents would help when they could but his siblings needed their attention as well, so he was not able to get all the help he needed.

“I wish they would have had it earlier,” Bertucci said.

Casey Owens, also a sixth grade student at Pearl River Central, said his grades in spelling have increased three letter grades as well. Owens said he also has received help in other subjects during his time in the program. In math, he has been getting help with decimals and in social studies he has received help in memorization to help him answer questions better.

Owens said he also likes being able to get his homework done faster. Before, it would take him about two hours to do his homework because his siblings also needed attention from his parents. Now Owens said he can get his homework done in about half an hour.