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Marion County Schools awarded after school programming grant, karate to be added

Donna Heston (File)

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — The West Virginia Department of Education has announced Marion County Schools are one of six organizations in the state to receive a 2024 Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) grant.

Superintendent Donna Heston said this was a renewal year for the grant that funds staff and activities for after-school programming.

The programs will be offered at Watson Elementary School, East Park Elementary School, and Blackshere Elementary School.

“We added to it based upon our students needs and what we’re seeing to help support them,” Heston said. “Not just academically with tutoring services, but also mentally with family engagement opportunities.”

After careful consideration, karate instruction has been added to afterschool learning opportunities.

“After school tutoring as well as this year we’re adding recreational opportunities with karate,” Heston said.

Karate offers many benefits, including a full-body workout, but can be priced out of reach for most families. Karate is a martial art, and most people at the instructor level are very experienced, with advanced belts and many years of experience.

“Anybody who has sought karate lessons for their child knows that it can be expensive, and now we have that opportunity in our backyard here in Marion County,” Heston said.

While teaching the principles of self-defense, karate develops confidence, self-discipline, character, good health habits, diet, and focus. Heston said they conducted a full review before adding the program.

“We carefully vetted that, reviewed it, and looked at some of the research associated with the methods of karate, and we’re excited to be able to offer it through the after-school programming,” Heston said.

Another grant through the Tygary Valley United will also extend after-school programs for students at East Fairmont Middle School, West Fairmont Middle School, and Mannington Middle School.

“That services students in after-school programs as well,” Heston said. “It is a collaboration with AmeriCorps, Fairmont State University, and those students that are pursuing education degrees.”

Other 2024 Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) grants were awarded to World Vision, Inc., in Barbour County; Boys and Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle, Berkeley County; Southern Educational Services Cooperative, Fayette, Summers, and Webster Counties; Step By Step, Inc., Kanawha County; and Playmates Preschool and Childcare Centers, Inc., Wayne County.


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