Holmes District Schools anticipates receiving $303,200 from the state for a grant geared towards helping students and schools with resiliency.

The grant was expected to be officially approved during a Holmes District School Board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 24. 

The funds are a one-time grant good for about a year, though district officials said there is hope there are recurring funds they can continue to go after. The funding comes at no cost to the district. 

‘We’re really excited about what we’re going to be able to do with it,’ Director of Student Services Matt Tate said. ‘We’ll be able to help add additional school resource officers in the afternoons for our afterschool programs.’

School resource officers have previously only been available during regular school hours.

‘Part of this is also focused on mental health and school safety. Part of this grant will be ensuring we have more mental health presence in the schools,’ Tate said. ‘Obviously, we already do but this will push it above and beyond to help those kids who don’t have that support at home to be taught to be resilient.’

Children will also be taught coping skills, Superintendent Buddy Brown said.

‘We’re finding more and more children at a younger age who are struggling with issues of that nature,’ Brown said. ‘Sometimes, it’s just as simple as having a safe adult they can have conversations with.’

Mental health issues and resiliency can tie back to 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, Brown said.

‘How do we bounce back from the trauma of COVID but also how do we bounce back from any significant event in our lives that is unexpected?’ Brown said. ‘People have forgotten about the long-range effects. Whether we liked it or not, what happened in 2020 is going to be with us. This is an issue we’re going to be seeing for the rest of the decade.’

Some kids are still struggling to get back on track, Brown said.

‘We have some kids that are coming to us in the second or third grade that never stepped foot in a school because they were home that first year they were supposed to be here,’ Brown said. ‘Parents, concerned for safety, kept them home. Now they’re starting to bring them back.’

Holmes District Schools will also implement a program called Empower You, which gives teachers exercises and activities they can use throughout the week, along with additional support.

‘(Students) can have virtual access to a counselor even when they’re not in school, like a one-on-one type deal,’ Tate said. ‘If they’re at home struggling with something, this is something they can use from their phone.’

A mentorship program for kids ages six through 12 will also be available.

‘We are also implementing a book study for teachers throughout the district so they can improve their knowledge of understanding what resiliency is for students and ways they might be able to impact within their schools,’ Tate said.

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