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Lights On Afterschool

For many, memories of middle school may conjure up thoughts of being last in the lunch line, fear of being squished in a locker, or not being picked for a team. However, the Excel Beyond the Bell program is giving many Montgomery County middle students different kind of memories such as scuba diving robots, building remote control cars, warm apple muffins, and creative arts programs and activities. The Montgomery County Recreation Department (MCRD), Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and the Collaboration Council for Children, Youth, and Families (Collaboration Council) have worked together to build an inclusive after-school program that makes kids want to stay at school.

Excel Beyond the Bell is an innovative after-school program developed as a unique partnership between MCRD, MCPS and the Collaboration Council. The award winning Excel Beyond the Bell is identified as the state-of-the-art out-of-school programming model that will likely be adopted for all Montgomery County afterschool programs as resources become available. Afterschool hours have beenidentified as the time when middle school students are the most at risk.

Excel Beyond the Bell was Montgomery County’s featured afterschool program in the recent Lights on Afterschool celebration. Lights on Afterschool is an annual nationwide event that brings attention to the importance of safe, quality afterschool programs for students. Montgomery County was one of the more than 8,000 communities that celebrated the event across the nation.

Excel Beyond the Bell is a second year pilot program that serves A. Mario Loiederman, Argyle, Forest Oak, Neelsville, and Roberto Clemente Middle Schools. Early qualitative and quantitative data analysis indicates the partnership efforts are highly successful and offer substantial benefits tothe students both academically and socially. The program also passes the middle-school student standards – it offers good food, is fun, and you do not have to dress up.