Albert Lea district expands Project Exploration opportunities

Published 8:00 pm Friday, March 24, 2023

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Administrator’s Corner by John Double

Project Exploration offers students in the Albert Lea Area School District a number of opportunities to be engaged in lifelong learning beyond the school day. This program, coordinated by Scott Hanna, is on pace to offer over 3,000 student activity slots this school year. Our school district received federal grant funding to offer creative programming to K-12 students at no cost to our students. These funds have been offering students various free opportunities since 2021 after school, during school breaks and over the summer months.

John Double

Starting last summer, the grant funds provided the boat house and rock wall experiential education opportunities for free to our district students. Many students have been taking advantage of learning in these two areas. Whether canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding or climbing the students are learning through activity. These options continue to exist for our students.

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Project Exploration began expanding and offered collaborative opportunities with some of our community partners. At the fall and winter breaks, collaborative programming between Community Education and the city of Albert Lea’s Recreation Department were offered, filling quickly with interested students. This collaboration was expanded for spring break adding the Albert Lea Family Y and extending it an additional day. This free programming was offered for up to 120 students during each of the three days.

Project Exploration also began after school programming at the elementary schools following winter break. The program rotates elementary schools offering a variety of activities to students. This program was initially designed for 36 students to participate each week and quickly surpassed the registration openings. Now serving up to almost 90 students in some schools, this program continues to work to serve everyone who registers.

Project Exploration also saw opportunities come to the secondary level with some craft classes being offered, a humanities club and a book club at the high school level, and a new fat tire bike snow riding course for students in grades 7-12. While we work to develop more activities at the secondary level, the rock wall and boat house (when open) are also great options open to this age group.

This summer will see a wide variety of programming happening for our students and families. Extended (full-day) field trips will be added to the “Fridays on the River” experiences bringing more opportunities for students. There will be collaborations with the city of Albert Lea at the play parks, offering art and activities (Watch the city of Albert Lea announcements for the schedule). There will also be cooperative programming efforts with the Albert Lea Family Y. Watch for our cummer Community Education book (mailed out in May) and our Community Education Facebook page to see all of the opportunities available for your students and families.

John Double is the director of Albert Lea Community Education.