Selectmen Mike Grass (left) and Dale Piirainen look over items on the agenda. Samuel Wheeler

WEST PARIS — At an Aug. 8 meeting, Eileen Storck and Melanie Ellsworth provided an update on the West Paris Explorers Program.

Storck said that in partnership with MSAD 17, the Explorers Program applied for and received a Twenty First Century Community Learning Center Grant.

The grant is for $125,000 for the first year. It will stay the same amount for the second and third years, if the program continues to meet the expectations of the grant. After the third year, it drops to 85 percent and 75 percent for years four and five.

Storck is Director of the West Paris Explorers Program and Ellsworth is District Coach/ESSEA Program Coordinator at MSAD 17.

The grant is hopefully going to pave the way for some big opportunities for students of the Agnes Gray School in West Paris.

The program will start once school begins. The program focuses solely on students who attend Agnes Gray. Agnes Gray has students from Kindergarten through the sixth grade.


The main focus will be providing enrichment activities for kids. Every afternoon there will be at least two options for students.

A variety of activities will be offered including physical fitness, health and wellness activities, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), performing arts, and tutoring.

There also may be topics that focus on safety and nutrition. Overall Ellsworth thinks that program will be extremely beneficial to a small town like West Paris.

“I think it’s a fabulous opportunity for a little community that does not have a lot of other enrichment opportunities for kids,” Ellsworth said. “This brings in a whole different variety of activities that kids can engage in and that otherwise would not be available to them without many miles of travel or high costs.”

The program also provides opportunities for families to get involved also.

Ellsworth noted however that the town does have a “wonderful library” and that sports teams have also been “very active.”


Ellsworth said that the program will target students who need “extra support” when it comes to academics.

“We have to use a standardized test to identify the kids we’re targeting,” Ellsworth said.

Ellsworth also said that program will be taking children whose parents simply want them to be part of the program.

The Agnes Gray School will identify students who they believe need extra support.

Students would have to attend at least 30 days of the 175 day program over the course of the year.

“It’s hard to show impact with anything unless there is at least thirty days of attendance in it,” Ellsworth “We’re hoping that they attend much more than that, but that is the minimum. For us to consider them a program student or for us to collect data on the impact of what is happening, they will have needed to have at least attended 30 days of the program.”


Ellsworth said that they have to attend at least 2 hours per day so they get both the academic and enrichment portion of the program.

“The school identifies kids, recruits them and then tracks their progress academically,” Ellsworth said. “The grant provides tutors, so the teachers would be employed after school at their current rate.”

Selectman Dale Piirainen asked who administering the grant.

Ellsworth said that Storck is the director and that the school district is the fiscal agent. Ellsworth also said she would be signing the purchase orders.

Selectman John Eli White was absent at the Aug. 8 meeting.

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