PERU — Dirigo Elementary School kicked off its after-school program Tuesday with youngsters gathering leaves, dried flowers and grasses.

The program runs for eight weeks on Tuesdays for kindergarten, first and second grades, Bethany Poulin, teacher and program academic coordinator, said. Another eight-week program may be scheduled in the spring, she said.

About 40 children had a snack, repeated the school’s motto to always be safe, respectful and responsible and lined up to go outside to look for leaves.

Gavin Mills, a second-grader, attended the program for the first time.

“I came because I wanted to have some fun,” he said.

Children streamed out the back door of the cafeteria with their group leaders and began searching for red or yellow leaves, dried flowers and other plants. Activities coordinator Andrea Angotti, who is an educational technician at the school, said children will press and frame the leaves.


The program ends at 5 p.m., when buses will take children home or their parents will pick them up.

Poulin, who is a multi-grade teacher, said she is looking to expand the learning activities for youngsters that will focus on academics. She said the leaders of the after-school program and classroom teachers stay in contact so enrichment activities will compliment classroom learning.

Dakota Morrison, a fourth-grader, is a sort of junior counselor for the younger children on Tuesdays.

“It’s fun to help out,” she said.

Poulin said future after-school events include kite making and pumpkin carving.

School Principal Charlie Swan said funds for the summer and after-school programs are part of the school’s budget.

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