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Student Success Initiative gets $25K grant from NMF to help at risk kids

Arriving for the official notification of the Northwest Minnesota Foundation grant were, from left, Peggy Crandall, NMF grants service associate, Park Rapids superintendent Glenn Chiodo, NMF president Nancy Vyskocil and district business manager Carol Hutchinson. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

Century Middle School's Student Success Initiative has received an additional financial boost, the Northwest Minnesota Foundation awarding a $25,000 grant.

The program, which has also received a $50,000 Blandin Foundation grant, will address fifth grade students who are experiencing difficulties, superintendent Glenn Chiodo said, "which tend to magnify at this age.

"It's an age group with so many things going on," he said.

Twelve have applied to date for the student success coordinator position. His/ her role will be to work as an education case manager with an identified group of 20 to 25 at-risk students, connecting each with the appropriate services needed for success. 

The project, the NMF stated in announcing the grant, has two primary goals - increase graduation rates and the number of students attending secondary schools after graduation. This came about after Minnesota Department of Education statistics showed only 77 percent of students were graduating on time, and only half of the graduates were moving on to higher education. 

"After additional evaluation, it became clear that students in Park Rapids were performing well in the elementary grades, but that kids started to have problems in the middle school years," the NMF stated. 

"Administrators feel that the transition from elementary to middle school, accompanied by a reduction in parental involvement and reduced individual attention, is behind many of the academic problems that students are experiencing," the NWF stated.  

The purpose is to create a range of interventions that will attempt to reverse the current trends and provide new opportunities for kids to succeed, essentially creating an individual education plan for each student. 

  Parent involvement will be a key component in this, Chiodo told the board earlier.

The district eventually will fund the "school within the school" project, he said.

The grants provide the impetus.

The students served will not be special needs students; they will be in the middle group of academic achievers. Chiodo anticipates a 50-50 gender ratio.