Archived Story

Brandywine applies for Five Star Life programming

Published 11:17pm Monday, January 9, 2012

Michele Marlow, a mother of four teens in Penn High School and Discovery Middle School in Granger, said an after-school program her children have attended produced “amazing” results in one year.

Now, Brandywine Community Schools is applying for the program as well.
Middle School Principal Pat Weckel presented the school board with a video about Five Star Life Monday.

The high-energy, two-hour, once-a-week, after-school program offers middle school children the opportunity for building academic, athletic, social and life skills. Five Star is not limited to at-risk students.

The Elkhart, Ind.-based program, led by area coaches and volunteers, combines games, day trips, team building and mentoring.

The cost for students is minimal — a busing fee or lunch may be required for trips. There is a fee for the Five Star summer camp, but students may “gain” that fee back through fundraising opportunities.

The cost for each school is $5,000 up front; the non-profit Five Star raises the remaining $25,000. It typically takes at least a year for a Five Star program to get up and running at a school after the application is accepted.

Supt. John Jarpe said the school board has approved the initial $5,000 investment and is submitting an application.

Sturgis and Three Rivers middle schools in Michigan and the Penn-Harris-Madison, Elkhart, South Bend and Mishawaka districts in Indiana are among those participating in Five Star.

Weckel said Three Rivers administrators called Five Star “one of the best programs they’ve ever been involved with.”

Students who participate even see academic success. On average, students’ scores increase by two letter grades.

Marlow, a counseling assistant at Brandywine, said three of her four children have participated in Five Star. One now wants to become a Five Star coach after graduation.

Marlow said her daughter was an excellent student, but was weak in athletics. Now, she runs varsity track. Her son was not very social; now, he has gained many friends.

“I attribute a lot of that to Five Star,” she said. “Within one year, it was amazing.”

Weckel said there are a few questions left to be answered, such as where it will be held and whether

Brandywine has enough students to qualify for it. The district may consider adding sixth grade to its middle school application to boost its student count.

“Every school has those issues,” Weckel said. “Five Star would be a good problem to have.”
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