Dogwood Elementary's cafeteria was full of squeals and laughter on Thursday evening as parents and students built snowmen, ice-skated and even made hot cocoa to go.

Dogwood Elementary's cafeteria was full of squeals and laughter on Thursday evening as parents and students built snowmen, ice-skated and even made hot cocoa to go.

Project PASS, Partners Assisting Student Success, offers extra enrichment activities for students after school. 45 students from Dogwood alone benefit from this program each week. Along with the extra classroom time, Project PASS gives families opportunities to stay engaged in their students learning process. Every six weeks or so the program hosts themed family nights.

"Family nights are just a way to get our parents in and get them involved. We try to have activities set up that are educational so they can see what their children are learning and what they are getting from it so it's not just a daycare or after school program but it is connected to what they are doing throughout the day," Dogwood Assistant Principal Laura O'Quinn said.

Each family night activity was linked to a power standard for each grade level. In order to decorate a mug and make hot cocoa to go, students had to count out the right amount of coins in order to purchase the mug. While ice-skating on a shaving cream rink, students had to give adjectives that described their experience.

"It's all winter based. We will have dinner and a chance to visit with the families. They will be able to sit and visit with their children, as well," O'Quinn said. "Then they will rotate around. A lot our stations include following directions, step by step, also tied to literacy and math."

Family nights are a fun and easy way to get the parents involved in the student's school experience.

"We get meet some of the students and get to know the teachers better and that helps," Charlie Noland, parent of first grader Taggert Noland, said.

Principal Shawn Dandoy enjoys family nights and looks forward to interacting with the students and their parents.

"The more we can get the parents in the school, the better relationship we have. Our standards are pretty high and our expectations and we need their help," he said. "Face to face personal contact is always better. I want them to see me if they have a question that I can clarify. A lot of times their son or daughter will introduce me. The kids, it gives them an opportunity to have a dialogue with two adults."

Project PASS is a part of Camdenton R-III Afterschool Services funded by the 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant through Mo. Dept. of Education. PASS not only gives students extra learning time, but also gives students extra interaction with fellow students.

"It gives them another opportunity for learning. They have socialization with their friends and the learning," Dandoy said.

"It's a great connection to what we are doing during the day. Its just an extension so that the students that need extra support can stay after and get that small group instruction that they need to meet their needs and support them in their classrooms. It is such a positive program and has made such a positive impact in our building. Anytime we can get parents in and get them involved, it just helps make that school experience even more positive," O'Quinn added.

For parents like Charlie Noland, PASS has played a critical role in improving his child's learning experience.

"He has really improved a lot this year and has jumped leap and bounds in his reading. I've noticed with his math. One of the PASS teachers said today that he is doing a lot better counting money, too," Noland said. "We've seen a lot of improvement with Taggert this year," he said.

Elaine Roelker, site coordinator, along with six teachers lead the Dogwood PASS program. For more information on Camdenton R-III Afterschool Services, visit