LARKSVILLE -- Schools in Luzerne County will soon take part in a program that puts the focus on science and math.
It will even have teachers making afterschool house calls to help students keep up and get ahead.
The most recent census shows 85 percent of families whose kids attend State Street Elementary school in Larksville live at or near the poverty line. But in the school's rehearsal room, community leaders promised hope and opportunity in an effort to try to make students more successful.
It's called the School and Home in Education, or SHINE, program, where next fall, 500 kids across Luzerne County will be enrolled.
Classes will focus on math and science from kindergarten to eighth grade.
"The key, especially in the sciences, is to get all the kids, especially in the middle school level, interested in the sciences," said Pat Leahy of Wilkes University.
Schools will have afterschool activities, and on occasion, teachers will even make house calls, for at-risk students.
"A lot of them at this time, don't want to come to school and this is the time that you need to just spark their interest and get them involved in things that they enjoy, so that they see school as a positive experience," said State Street Elementary Principal Amy Scivek.
It's modeled after a similar program in Carbon County that's been around for 10 years, where truancy and juvenile crime dropped while achievement test scores improved.
"I think this program will help kids improve their grades," said Donnell Green of Edwardsville.
"It's helping kids get better grades, and you get to learn stuff, and you get to have fun after school," said Ariana Rysc of Edwardsville.
The program will be funded by federal and state tax dollars along with donations costing up to $1.7 million a year.
But those behind the program say no one can put a price on how much the SHINE program will help thousands of kids in the coming years.