An hour before school begins and for hours after school ends, children might be found in Vernal's Central Elementary School, working on special projects designed to nurture self-esteem.

The school has taken seriously the challenge to meet the needs of a diverse student population. Almost half of the students come from low-income, non-traditional families and meet the standards for free breakfast and lunch.Central is one of four schools that submitted applications this year for the U.S. Department of Education's Blue Ribbon Schools program. The program, however, was not funded, and it is uncertain if the applications will be reviewed and the schools recognized.

Central is open an hour before school begins and children may play learning games, read, draw or participate in other activities teachers provide. It is a relaxed time for teacher/student communications as well.

After school, children may take part in Central Singers, a choral group that is invited to perform at community activities. Or they may opt for the Young Authors program, a creative writing project under the direction of Principal Ken Morgan. The children have produced highly polished stories, prose and poetry, he said.

The school is trying to incorporate the "personalized education" approach promoted by the State Board of Education and the Strategic Plan for Education expected to be adopted by the 1992 Legislature, Morgan said.

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The school is attempting also to implement the America 2000 concepts of the school as a community center, he said.

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