After-school academy gets grant from Dept. of Education

MARION, SC (WBTW) - The Performing Arts and Science Academy in Marion is planning to expand its program after receiving a $179,000 grant from the Department of Education.

Through the 21st Century Grant, third, fourth and fifth graders will be able to attend the after-school programs at PASA for free. 

About 90 kids in Marion will benefit. They’ll get to participate in a variety of classes including dance, cosmetology, aerospace, music, money management, and STEM courses. Under the grant, PASA will also have the funds to upgrade their facility and equipment. They plan to get new piano keyboards, dance competition uniforms, and laser and drone technology. The director, Justine Roberts, talked about the importance of offering free classes to students in the community, many of whom come from low-income families.

“To be able to offer a program like this is amazing because we have families with multiple children and parents can’t afford to pay the tuition. So it will allow them to be able to come to a program like this so that we can actually be an asset to their future," she said. "That's why I'm so excited. Since we got this 21st Century, we'll be able to open the doors and not tell children or not be able to allow children to come to the program because of finances. I really hope that in the near future, we'll be able to get more grants like this so it will allow all of our children to come to the program for free."

PASA offers a large variety of performing arts classes and science and technology courses. Some of the performing arts programs include choir, music and dance.

“I teach ballet, modern and jazz. So the children are learning all of those styles of dances. And then they learn dance theory, dance history, dance terminology also," said Roberts.

Through the science and technology portion, students get the chance to create their own robots, operate drones, and sit in a rocket simulator to experience what it's like to fly to the moon. The director of the science department partnered with NASA to make the experience realistic. 

“Children will plan their mission and also be able to fly the simulator. They’ll be able to do everything an astronaut does. We get direct feed from NASA," Roberts told News13.

PASA will host their Summer Fest on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Withlacoochee Park. There will be pizza, bounce houses and a rocket launch. Parents can also sign their kids up for classes.

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