After-school programming at Turlock Junior High has taken a leap into the technology era with Wii game systems, flat screen televisions and the latest in video gaming technology.
The new tech toys were purchased through an ASES (After School Education and Safety) grant through the Turlock Recreation Division. Erik Schulze, recreation senior supervisor, said that the games are an effective way to keep junior high kids in after-school programs.
“This is just our hook, our way of getting them to join the program and keep coming back. It’s really about the extended education opportunity,” Schulze said.
The ASES after-school program started at Turlock Junior High School on Jan. 3. The district already has around 1,000 students who attend ASES programs at elementary school sites. Turlock Junior High School was approved for the program based on the number of students receiving free or reduced lunch.
That extended education comes in the form of an hour of supervised study and homework time every day. What makes the Turlock Junior High ASES program unique is the involvement of credentialed teachers in the after-school program. As soon as school gets out for the day, students check in with the ASES staff and are sent to one of four classrooms — language arts, math, science or history. Each of those classes is led by a credentialed teacher who offers homework or study help in specific areas.
Students can also spend their hour of study time at the library, where they can use the computer and access the Internet for homework.
“Many of the kids are below a certain income level and may not have computers at home where they can do that kind of homework,” Schulze said.
The ASES grant for the Turlock Junior High after school program targets below and far below average students. The grant funding, about $127,000, paid for computers and other electronic equipment, recreation staff, and a stipend for credentialed teachers involved in the program. There is also a late bus for students who live in approved areas.
“We were lucky that we started mid-year, but the grant paid for the full year. We were able to use a lot of that money to buy equipment and computers,” Schulze said.
Next year, the funding will be used mostly to pay for staff, teachers and bussing. Schulze said that the ASES funding came from voter-approved Proposition 49 and that it will remain in place.
ASES will soon launch an e2020 credit recovery program at the Turlock Junior High site. Eligible students will be able to make up class credits by attending after school programming for 30 hours per credit. Some of this year’s funding went towards computer equipment for the credit-recovery program.
Even students who do not need to make up credits can benefit from the extra homework help after school. Once homework hour is over, they can participate in a coached basketball clinic, play Wii and other games or participate in planned enrichment activities. Schulze said that the program hopes to add a woodshop seminar and bicycle repair lessons soon, along with other activities. Softball and martial arts are also planned for later in the year.
The big question, however, is if the enrichment activities are enough to entice students to come back. The program’s target attendance for next year is 117 students daily. So far, 147 students are registered, and about 85 attend each day.
Caitlyn Shirley, and eighth grade student at Turlock Junior High School, just started the ASES program in January.
“I like it. I was having some trouble getting my homework done, but this helps. I get my homework done most of the time now,” Shirley said.
Natalie Stanhope and Nolan Nguyen, both eighth graders, were enrolled in ASES programs in elementary school. They both agreed with Caitlyn that the after school program was worth their time.
“I have been going since kindergarten at schools in Turlock and other districts. I still like it,” Stanhope said.
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