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Grant program will help students who are expelled

A recently won grant will help fund a program to reach out to youth who are suspended or have been expelled from South Whidbey schools.

The South Whidbey School District has received a one-year, $85,600 grant to support the new program for serving at-risk youth on South Whidbey. Funded by the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, grant money for this purpose went to only five Washington school districts and three educational programs in the state.

The program will consist of counseling and individualized learning to draw students either back into school or into vocational education training.

The program will be administered by the school district through the new Learning Engagement Program (LACEP) located across the street from Langley Middle School. LACEP was the brainchild of Langley Middle School teacher Susie Richards, and was funded in January 2004 with a federal Learn and Serve America Grant and the Northwest Rural Grant project.

Richards, the school district’s advisor to LACEP said she believes the grant was awarded to South Whidbey schools because “we have a great track record with service learning projects.”

The school was one of 16 schools named as a national leader in service learning last year. Service learning projects at the school include the Youth in Philanthropy programs, Adventure Education, the annual senior prom dance, and the school’s recycling program.

Richards said she is excited about this new effort to help at-risk youth at South Whidbey High School, Bayview School and Langley Middle School.

Volunteers and counselors will help students find their strengths and passions in order to complete their education and work toward independence.

“We have already begun taking referrals and expect to be meeting with students next week,” Richards said.

Student referrals can be made by counselors, teachers, coaches or parents.

Richards said with this emphasis on community service, LACEP will collaborate with community service providers, organizations, and individuals to create opportunities for youth participants.

Funding will support program coordinators, Chris Burt, Kathy Hein and Charlene Suzuki.

Hein, who was coordinator of the Tutor Mentor Program at Langley Middle School, said moving to the new position is a natural transition from the work she has been involved with.

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