A grant to operate the highly successful after-school program at Soehl Middle School in Linden has been renewed for the 2020-21 school year.

The 21st Century Community Learning Center is entering its 16th year at Soehl, offering tutoring, enrichment programs, recreation, and more each day from 3 to 6 p.m.

“I am so grateful that the New Jersey Department of Education has accepted our 21st Century Community Learning Center grant award application for the 2020-2021 school year,” said Soehl Principal Isabella Scocozza. “The 21st Century Grant will enable us to continue providing high-quality after school programming to our Soehl Middle School students.”

The state grant is awarded for five-year terms but must be renewed each year. This is the second year of the current term. The program will be awarded $425,000 for the school year to pay for staff, materials, trips, programs, and a daily snack for the students.

students pose with Lights on After School poster

Students in the 21st Century Community Learning Center after-school program at Soehl Middle School show off their winning entry in the 2019 Lights On After School poster contest. At top, students visited an art studio in 2019.

The program continues to offer virtual classes even during remote instruction, including language arts and math homework assistance, coding, physical fitness, yoga, robotics, painting, and more. It will transition to in-person sessions when students return to the school.

“The 21st Century Community Learning Center does wonderful things for our students at Soehl Middle School,” said Superintendent Dr. Marnie Hazelton. “Students who may be struggling get extra help, and all students take part in enrichment programs that help to expand their learning in the STEM fields and other areas. Even during virtual instruction, the program is there to support our students day in and day out.”

The program works with about a third off all the students at Soehl at different times throughout the year.

“The main focus is to provide students with a wide range of activities that focus on STEM, homework assistance, enrichment programs, class trips, counseling, recreation, community service, mentoring – among many others,” Scocozza said.