Church to offer after-school lessons

Published 10:44 am Friday, September 9, 2011

When area elementary students have early release days this year, they may have a chance to learn a few extra things that traditionally aren’t allowed in public schools.

For five Wednesday’s during this school year, fourth- and fifth-graders will have an opportunity to learn more science, history, art and religion during after-school programs at Faith Evangelical Church.

Though the idea isn’t new around the nation, local attorney Dave Forman who’s attended Faith Evangelical for 20 years, thought this program could be well-received in Austin.

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“My intentions are to use that time when the kids are automatically being released and they’re going who knows where,” he said, and mentioned the learning opportunities will be unique to area students. “We can add something the school system doesn’t deal with.”

Forman said Owatonna has a similar system, where any elementary student can attend a church’s after-school program, regardless of being a member. Though Forman and Faith Evangelical’s elementary ministry director, Kristy Rooney, don’t have all the wrinkles ironed out, they do have five dates set for the program: Oct. 12, Dec. 14, Feb. 15, March 14 and May 9. The program would ideally cater to Southgate Elementary students within walking distance of Faith Evangelical Church, but any fourth- and fifth-graders would be allowed to attend, as well.

Rooney said the program will focus on two themes: investigation and imagination.

The very first class will focus on investigation, and program leaders tentatively have a scientist from Hormel booked to host the class. Along with the five classes, Rooney hopes to add more learning opportunities on other days, as well.

“After that, I’m hoping to just get more leaders that want to come on board and either do an evening class, morning class … It really depends on who we are going to get to volunteer,” she said.

Forman said there’s an opportunity to draw nearly 200 students from Southgate alone, and Faith’s leaders are hoping to get as many as they can.

“We have got to gear up and just see how many show up,” Forman said. “We’ve got to be ready for a large number; and hopefully, that’s how many will come.”

Both Forman and Rooney are excited about the opportunity, and there are already about 10 volunteers willing to help.

“I’m excited about it because I want to broaden what kids understand of where Christ fits in their lives.” Rooney said. “It’s not just simple Sunday school lessons, but he’s in their everyday lives.”