After-school programming has kicked off at Madill Public Schools.

The district received a five-year 21st Century Learning Centers grant from the Oklahoma State Department of Education in August 2012. The grant is awarded so schools can create community learning centers that complement students' regular classes.

Madill Public Schools has used the funds to develop an after-school program, now starting its second year. The programs run until 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday at the early childhood center, elementary and middle school.

Registration continues through the year, with students entering the program at anytime.

At the elementary, students spend the first hour doing homework with the help of teachers.

"It's all easy with the teacher helping us at all times," says fourth-grader Raiden Chapman.

Many students finish their homework during this time, which they see as an advantage for when they go home.

"We work on homework, and it helps us understand more words," says fourth-grader Bethany Phillips. "My homework is done, so now I can go home and feed animals. Then I can play and watch TV."

The second hour is spent in an activity, with current choices being crafts, music, physical education or computers.

Craft and music students work on a long-term project and then rotate, while the P.E. and computer students rotate each day.

"That's new this year. Last year, we just didn't have enough time in each class," says Kristi Birdsong, coordinator for the elementary program.

Students see this as beneficial, especially since the activities are the same as the electives they enjoy during the school day.

"We get to have more fun. Instead of doing an activity once, we do it twice. We get double the activity," Phillips says.

In order to expand the activities offered, the school is looking for volunteers to teach special skills to the youngsters.

"Last year we had someone come in and do a knitting group, but really anyone with a special skill can volunteer," Birdsong says.