• All students (291) in grades K-5 participate Monday through Friday in Peaceful Playground activities during recess at Washington Elementary.
  • Good sportsmanship and fair competitive play are the goals.  Students learn to take responsibility for their actions and about compassion for others.
  • Activities include 4-Square, kickball, basketball, hula-hoops, jump rope, and hop-scotch.  It’s been so fun to watch the kids’ ear-to-ear grins while running from feature to feature on the new playground!
  • The Elementary PTO generously provides Peaceful Playground equipment.
  • ECR Staff also provide post-recess lunch room support for K-5th grades.  2-5 of us help students focus on having time to eat a good lunch and work to promote respectful behavior.


  •  Members in grades 7 through 12 have participate in Key Club activities.
  • Activities this quarter: A student-led international organization whose goal is to encourage leadership through serving others. 
  • Key Club Projects include:
    • Project Eliminate 
    • March of Dimes
    • The Thirst Project
    • Dodgeball for Ducklings (Heifer International)
    • Crafts at the Nursing Home
    • Fleece blankets for children’s hospital 
    • Hurricane Relief 
    • Highway Clean-ups
    • Helping fellow students and families 
    • Other projects that drive students’ passions
  • Jill Swanson is our club advisor, and meetings are held on Tuesdays during advisory period at the High School Media Center.  Occasional weekend meetings allow for more time to plan and organize events.
  • Ely Kiwanis Club supports the Club’s efforts.


  • Our Mentoring Program is growing!  Call 365-5254 if you are interested in becoming a mentor for a young person in Ely!  The mentor role is tremendously rewarding, and we have a lot of fun as a group.
  • Mentor and mentees meet as pairs every week and as a group monthly.  Some youth and adults participate in only the group activities.
    •  Jill Swanson coordinate the Mentoring Program.
    • Group activities included carving pumpkins in October, making Thankful cards for people who have participated in November.  Canoeing in the spring.
  • Group mentoring is gaining momentum.  Our plan is to make it very low key and “available when you are”.  The group will change slightly from time to time, but will provide relationships and interactions beneficial to young and old. 


  • Family Resource Facilitator:  Allison Heiman has brought a wealth of training and experience.  She works with students and their families.  In collaboration with school staff, she’ll reach out to families as needs arise.  ECR can help with access to food, information about and access to support groups, and can help do the legwork to connect families with outside-the-school resources needed to support their children.  This effort is supported by the Community Care Team and the Behavioral Health Network and adds a “helping hand” for school staff.  This year’s efforts will include increased attention for pre-school kids.  


  • ECR Staff are available to help students who return from a prolonged absence from school or a family crisis to catch up with their homework. This activity takes place at the request of school staff or parents and as the student’s schedule allows.  In partnership with the school, we are planning a formal connection with residential treatment facilities to communicate and work together on supporting students who return.
  • The Ely Water Project is up and running. Supported by a grant from St. Louis County through the Burntside Lake Association and technical support from government agencies, other lake associations, and Ely Schools, students are collecting data on aquatic invasive species, native inhabitants, and water chemistry in area lakes.  The database they develop will be available for any student to use for a project of their choice—an exciting new way to prepare for college.  Science teachers Bo DeRemee, Paula Anderson, and Todd Hohenstein are participating, along with Darren Lilja from Lake County Soil and Water/US Forest Service.  The Science Club, advised by Mr. DeRemee, is well-attended, well-structured and well-equipped.
  • College visits are planned for later in the year—perhaps between winter and spring sports seasons.


  • Homework Club is an opportunity for students to receive help in understanding and completing their daily homework.  Grades 3-5 meet after school Monday -Thursday 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. in the Washington Elementary library.  A snack is served!
  • Attendance ranges from 5-16 students on any given day.  This year’s theme of reduced homework leaves “room” in the session for students to work on reading fluency.
  • Community volunteer tutors help!—Students are benefitting from and appreciating relationships with these adults who are so generous with their time and talent.
  • The format has changed!  With decreased homework, this time period after school now allows time for enrichment activities.  We have stockpiled special activities/fun problems to solve for students who finish their homework before 4:30.  They include building things, solving mysteries, and quiet or partner reading time.  Students are no longer expected to leave when their homework is finished.
  • Katie Paige coordinates Homework Club.  Call 365-5254 if you are interested in being part of our volunteer tutor group.  We have a lot of fun, and the connections made with adults outside the family are so valuable for our kids!


  • Computers and a printer are available to complete assignments in style!
  • Jill Swanson, Master’s Degree in Environmental Education, coordinates Homework Help.  The students meet Monday – Thursday 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. in the Memorial Media Center.  Math Whiz Jeff Kemmer , also helps out on a volunteer basis nearly every day and can handle any math problem!
  • A snack is served, and the very regular attendance is creating “space” for good relationships to develop.  Excellent communication with school staff and parents has also been a boost to effectiveness.

Buddies Program 

  • “Buddies” is a friendship skills program available to first graders and second graders.  Each group of 5 – 7 students continues for six weeks and builds skills throughout the year through inclusion activities that expand groups of friends over time.
  •  Second graders will begin in January.
  • Anti-bullying effort.  The purpose of Buddies is to promote cooperation, respectful communication, teamwork, and establish and maintain healthy friendships.  Students love the short sessions, teachers appreciate what students bring back to the classroom, and parents give rave reviews.
  • “Buddies” is facilitated by Katie Paige.  PBIS Paw Pride and Responsive Classroom programs fit with the Buddies curriculum well.  All ECR staff help to provide structured activities during recess—it’s actually a “large crowd version” of Buddies!  (~140 at a time!)  Teachers advise and are helping us to keep our Buddies activities relevant for each group.


    • ECR has hired new supervisors for Rec Center activities.  The Rec Center is open almost every day.  The hockey and figure skating rinks are ready for the holidays and beyond.
    • Our Staff make activities available Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday 3:00-8:00pm. 
    • Ely Wheel Park is NOW OPEN! Need a helmet? Just ask during open hours.
  •   The Ely Wheel Park is NOW OPEN, a skateboard/BMX bike park designed in large part by our kids!  A designer in Vancouver has delivered construction documents, and the students continue to work on raising money.  The City and several Ely businesses have pledged money to be used for their choice of features in the park.
  • More Parent Volunteers are very welcome! 


  • United Way of Northeast Minnesota partnership is still strong.  We’d also like to express a big THANK YOU to Zup’s for donating fresh fruit for this project again this year.  The students love it.  This school year, we distribute 52 backpacks full of shelf-stable, kid-friendly food every week.
  • The United Way also created hygiene kits appropriate for K-3 graders as a special one-time gift.
  • This program is immensely appreciated by students who receive the backpacks.


  • The group’s vision of Ely after engaging in the AGE to age activities we choose is: Youth and adults have mutually supportive relationships creating personal fulfillment and common good in Ely.  Fits right in with Ely folks and ECR!   Mentoring activities continued, Tech & Coffee sessions “went mobile” and took place at Carefree Assisted Living, and tree planting was accomplished with help from the Tree Board.

REACH Program 

Jill Swanson and Allison Heiman facilitate the REACH Program for Middle and High School students.

  • REACH stand for:
    • Relationships
    • Education
    • Accountability
    • Character
    • Hard Work 

The Mission is to REACH out and serve all students who need support, by helping them attain their place in life through academic and interpersonal success. 

Holiday Project 

Each October, local families in need register to receive gifts for their children during the December holidays. ECR facilitates fundraising to make the holidays happy with toys and clothing items. Ages: Birth to 18 years old.

Summer Reads 

ECR facilitates an 8-week program for students to improve reading skills. It’s a great collaboration with Ely Schools and the MN Literacy Council that effectively inhibits the “summer slide” for students in grades K-4.

Enrichment Programs

Opportunities such as The Water Project, Tree Brigade, Children’s Garden and Afternoon Adventures are offered for local youth to expand their horizons in art, fitness, and nature/science. Students have summer and winter opportunities to learn from and work alongside caring and knowledgeable adult mentors. For all ages.

Reading Pals 

Reading mentors are available to help students improve reading skills and promote literacy. Currently Reading Pals is working with grades 1-3. Call ECR at 365-5254 for more information.