posted May 24, 1999

CASA Receives Grant

A grant from the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area will support the development of writing skills and nature activities for the elementary-age children participating in the Children's After School Achievement (CASA) Program at Hope College during the coming summer and school year.

          When CASA's six-week summer session begins on June
  21, the program will introduce "Discovering Nature:  The
  Write Idea."  The unit will blend field trips, service
  projects, demonstrations by naturalists, the guidance of a
  writer-in-residence, reading and classroom exercises to help
  students develop writing skills and better understand the
  natural world around them and their relationship to it.
          "We want the children to realize the importance of
  the environment and how it's intertwined with their own
  lives and how it affects their lives, and we want them to
  develop and improve their written expression skills," said
  Bob Boersma, program director with CASA.
          The blend of activities--coursework combined with
  hands-on encounters--is intended to reinforce the idea that
  the lessons being learned go beyond the time the students
  spend in CASA's classrooms, according to Fonda Green,
  executive director of CASA.
          "We're tying in what the students are learning in
  the curriculum with the writer-in-residence and the nature
  trips and other activities," Green said.  "We think the
  combination will create a wonderful circle of experience."
          CASA provides substance abuse prevention, cultural
  awareness, academic and career experiences to approximately
  100 at-risk first- through fifth-grade students.  The
  program is intended to improve the students' academic
  performance and help them develop healthy, productive
  lifestyles.  CASA's students meet in the mornings during the
  summer session, and twice weekly for two hours per session
  throughout the school year.
          The foundation has awarded CASA $5,650 for
  "Discovering Nature."  Activities this summer will include
  field trips to the Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids,
  a nature walk at Ottawa County's Pigeon Creek Park and the
  Farmer's Market in Holland.  CASA has also ordered several
  volumes in the "NatureScope" series produced by the National
  Wildlife Federation for use in class.  The writer-in-
  residence will help the students to express their nature
  experiences in writing.
          Similar activities will continue during the school
  year, with CASA linking with activities at the DeGraaf
  Nature Center in Holland as well.  Boersma is hoping to have
  the students produce nature-themed materials such as
  placemats or posters that would be suitable for display at
  sites in the community such as area businesses.
          Established by Marge Rivera in 1987, CASA was
  originally administered by Latin Americans United for
  Progress (LAUP) and housed at First United Methodist Church.
  The program moved to the college in 1989, and is housed on
  the ground level of Graves Hall.  CASA also receives support
  through the City of Holland and the Greater Holland Area
  United Way, as well as from area businesses and individuals.