Project Read and Reach Celebrates Afterschool Programs with Fall Festivals


See full gallery of photos from the event on the PRR website.

Kids and parents partnered to make spooky paper spiders, decorate cookies and pin the bow tie on the skeleton at two recent Lights on Afterschool fall festivals aimed at celebrating afterschool programming.

Project Read and Reach, the district’s afterschool program for children in kindergarten through 4th grade, organized the fun for families who participate in the programs at Lincoln and Blackhurst Elementary Schools on Oct. 15 and 22.

Each October since 2000, the Afterschool Alliance organizes Lights on Afterschool events to highlight the importance of keeping the lights on and the doors open for afterschool programs.

More than 30 community volunteers from St. Charles National Honor Society, OASIS CATCH Healthy Habits and the greater community volunteered to help make the two fall festivals a success. More than 40 families attended and participated in Halloween-themed activities including arts and crafts, face painting and carnival games.

The Optimist Club of St. Charles sponsored the event.

“The goal was just to bring families together,” said Chrissy Fitzpatrick, Project Read and Reach Coordinator. “We wanted to draw attention to the many ways PRR supports students and their families by providing a fun night for the entire family.”

Afterschool programs, like Project Read and Reach, provide students with a safe place to go after the school day ends, inspire kids to learn and relieve the worries of working parents.

Project Read and Reach serves about 70 students in the St. Charles District, 22 percent of which qualify for a discount based on family income. PRR is funded through tuition as well as state grants.

“After school programs provide a valuable extension to a child’s school day,” District Superintendent Jeff Marion said. “Many students need more academic support than can be provided during the regular school day and Project Read and Reach bridges that gap. We are so fortunate to have quality afterschool programming that is both fun and meaningful.”

Class Details Bittersweet Effects of Sugar to Your Health


Katie Nowikow knows personally how addicting junk food can be. She grew up as a self-described junk-food junkie. It wasn’t until college that she began to make better choices.

“We’re a social eating culture,” she said. “It’s pizza, burgers, fries and sweets. Those foods are very addicting to our bodies because they are loaded with the things we crave most which is salt, fat, and sugar. When that addiction gets a hold of you it can be hard to break away from. There’s cues that are around us all the time pushing us to look for that fast food.”

Nowikow is a certified health coach who teaches several courses for St. Charles Adult and Community Education, including “Bittersweet: How Sugar Makes us Fat.” The next bittersweet class will be Oct. 29 from 6-9 p.m. Sign up for the class here. 


The biggest issue people face is the availability of processed, addicting junk food at drive thru restaurants, vending machines, the office break room.

“Food is a socially acceptable coping mechanism for stress,” she said. “We all have either celebrated with junk food or coped using junky items. Unlike alcohol, drugs or cigarettes it’s OK…. There’s a disconnect with how bad the food can really hurt us.

Often people know they should be eating healthier but aren’t sure where to begin, Nowikow said.

“There’s a lot of information out there, which can be great but can be really damaging. Some people say you should have meat, some say too much fruit is bad, others say eat all the fruit you want.”


Nowikow said she works to help people break down what is needed in their bodies. She said sugar addiction can be very challenging to work on. Natural sweeteners, like honey and maple syrup, can help people transition away from table sugar.

“It takes time to reduce those cravings,” she said. “You need to have something. Most people can’t quit cold turkey.”

Other artificial sweeteners, like Splenda, Nutri-Sweet, and Equal, can have negative effects on the system, Nowikow said. “They are chemically made and may be calorie free, but they are probably nutritionally empty.”

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Nowikow said people interested in kicking the sugar habit have to focus on more than just eating, but also their lifestyle, common causes of stress and how to manage other things in conjunction with food.

“It’s not a one-trick deal to change what you are eating and everything else falls into place,” she said. “There’s a lot going on.”

Check out Katie’s blog for recipes for bread made with nut butter and 10 actionable steps you can take for a safe and happy fall.


St. Charles EMT Program Now Enrolling for Spring 2015 Classes


Enroll now in the 16-week EMT training program with St. Charles EMT. Classes are held in the the mornings and evenings and will prepare students to take state and national EMT licensure exams, the first step toward a career in the healthcare industry.

With small class sizes and hands-on instruction, you’ll be ready for an exciting, fulfilling job as an EMT, or be ready to continue your education and train as a firefighter, paramedic or more. Students must pass an entrance exam, be at least 18 and have a high school diploma or a GED to enroll in the program. Learn more about the St. Charles EMT Program here. 

Costs: Entrance exam $10, registration $250 (applied to tuition), tuition $1,099 (includes BLS certification, background check and tshirt), textbook $140.

Spring 2015 classes start Jan. 20 and meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sign up to learn more at an upcoming orientation by calling (636) 443-4043. Orientations will be held at 2400 Zumbehl Road, St. Charles, Mo. 63301.

Orientation Dates:

5 p.m. Thursday Nov. 6

9 a.m. Tuesday Nov. 18

5 p.m. Tues. Dec. 16