GULF SHORES, Ala. (WKRG) — Gulf Shores Middle School’s “Beyond the Bell” program recently received a financial boost from the Alabama 21st Century Community Learning Center, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Education, which provides grants for schools and other organizations to offer learning opportunities outside of regular school hours. 

Brittney Reeves, the assistant principal and after school program director, says the after school program is something she is passionate about.

 “It gives us $150,000 per year for three years to run after school and summer programming for our students, it focuses on service learning, academic support, academic enrichment, STEAM projects, music theatre,” Reeves said.

Beyond the Bell is not your typical after school care program.

 “It’s not a babysitting service, we’re not watching movies,” Reeves said. “We are hands on, we are making slime, we are building robots, we are learning to code with robots.”

 With teachers focusing on what the kids are interested in.

 “We ask them all the time, what they want and then bring those opportunities into the program, for them, so it helps make sure that they are involved, that they’re surrounded by people, they’re getting that support not just going home,” Reeves said.

Whether it’s riding bikes through the state park or building race cars, Beyond the Bell is focused on educating students, while also having fun. Reeves says the money received this year will go toward a new rock-climbing wall.