A non-denominational Christian outreach program will be offered to students locally.
LifeWise Academy is planned for the Prairie Central area starting this fall. The Bible education program can be held during school if class is held off site and away from public school grounds, according to local advisory committee member LouisJohn Slagel.
Teachers would not be paid by the school district as the program is operated off of donations and separate from the school system. The cost per student is $25 per year which helps with curriculum, overhead and funding teacher salaries.
“LifeWise is just kind of a parent non-profit umbrella to operate the program,” explained Slagel.
Since this is geared toward second through sixth grade students in the coming year, the Methodist Church in Forrest will be used as a site for Upper Elementary students and Fairbury Speedway has offered the current 4-H building space for Prairie Central Elementary students participating.
A part-time teaching position could be around 15 hours a week and the once-a-week class would meet for only 30 to 45 minutes. Slagel reports Lifewise has a fairly common Sunday School curriculum.
“We are just excited to kind of pull the community churches together,” said Slagel.
Paula Kelson will serve as the program director and will be in communication with the school district to work on scheduling. The plan is to have volunteers meet participating students at school and walk them over to the classroom.
“We have a list of people helping out,” added Slagel.
LifeWise started in an Ohio community with a curriculum that introduces the gospel but is not denomination focused. Character development traits are shared using the gospel.
Prairie Central Superintendent Paula Crane said the district is going to have to work around this as there is a law to excuse students for religious purposes. This will be a bit different since it will be in the middle of the school day and the district will get a schedule together.
Basically, those students choosing to participate in the new program will miss what is known as “character ed” to do another type of character education. This is really the only optional part of the day other than lunch recess.
While the LifeWise Academy is planned for the upcoming school year, it may not start until September or early October, Slagel said.
In lieu of a fundraiser, the group is accepting donations allowing them to focus efforts on hiring a director and teachers, adding a restroom and heating to the fair 4-H building and planning the program. Checks can be made payable to LifeWise and mentioning Prairie Central CUSD 8 in the memo and should be mailed to Lockbox 4327, Columbus, OH 43260. Credit cards are accepted online.
In addition to Slagel, other local advisory committee members include Nate Kelson, Patti Davis and Ryan Fehr.
More details are available at www.lifewise.org.
Slagel was the featured speaker at Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Fairbury Rotary Club in the basement of Dominy Memorial Library. Crane was also in attendance.