After-school program will aid student enrichment

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ROCHESTER - A partnership between the Rochester School Department and the YMCA of Strafford County, a branch of The Granite YMCA, will bring a site-based learning center to Rochester Middle School in the upcoming school year.

Thanks to a generous five year grant received from the NH State Department of Education, a 21st Century Learning Center will launch in the 2017/2018 school year.

"I know firsthand the importance of youth development, academic support, and enrichment activities for youth," said John Harris, President and CEO of The Granite YMCA. "I can't think of a better program with greater potential to positively complement students' development than the 21st Century Program."

This six week program emphasizing leadership, character development, and academic support will run daily out of the Rochester Middle School from 2:30 - 5:30 p.m. Serving up to 50 students per week, The 21st Century Learning Center has the potential to impact and serve as many as 300 students over the course of a year. A full day summer component will also be available to approximately 25 students for a four week period. Summer participants will engage in academic activities in the morning and will then be bussed to YMCA Camp Coney Pine for outside camp activities in the afternoon.

"Middle School students are unstructured from 2:30 pm until 5:30 pm when parents get home, not to mention many of the extracurricular school activities tend to dry up in the late fall/mid-winter time of year," said Stephen LeClair, Rochester Title I Director. "This collaboration will provide a tremendous service that is highly needed in our district, in addition to fostering the potential of our students through offering extra support outside of school hours."

The program will be broken out into three concentration areas: academics to provide students with homework help, tutoring, and project follow through; enrichment activities which will be offered in response to the expressed interested of the students featuring First Aid and CPR training, photography, cooking, and more; and wellness and recreation where students will enjoy physical fitness activities including yoga, martial arts, snowshoeing, soccer, and archery to name a few.

"This partnership is an exciting opportunity to further engage our students and encourage them to grow and explore new areas of interest," Superintendent Michael Hopkins said. "I know that our staff is eager to launch this program and give our middle school aged students a unique outlet to express themselves and broaden their horizons."

"One of the many wonderful aspects of this program is that we enable students to find their voice and discover new interests," said Rachelle Hennessy, Associate Branch Director at the YMCA of Strafford County. Students participate in enrichment activities by selecting five options, one for each day of the week, which will then be offered for the full six-week cycle.

Hennessy added that the 21st Century Program not only benefits the students, but also the community as a whole. The large offering of enrichment activity options coupled with mentoring and tutoring allows for further collaboration with local business owners, other non-profits and organizations as well as community volunteers and even AmeriCorps/Vista recruitment opportunities.

For more information, please contact Rochester Middle School Principal Adam Houghton at 603-332-4090 or via email at or Rachelle Hennessy at the YMCA of Strafford County at 603.332.7334 or via email at

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