Woodlake High School students prefer to stay on campus after school
Tiger’s Den afterschool program offers elective enrichment classes, student interaction after school
By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN
WOODLAKE – When the final bell of the day sounded, Elisabeth Reid had little to look forward to in the afternoon. The Woodlake High School junior would go home, do some homework and then wait for her parents to come home.
But for the last few weeks, Reid has been learning to cook homemade recipes, playing volleyball and board games with newfound friends thanks to a new afterschool program at Woodlake High School.
“There is a lot more bonding that goes on instead of going home and being alone,” Reid said. “There’s a lot more interaction by staying on campus.”
Reid is among 100 students who attend Woodlake High School’s (WHS) afterschool program each day. The program, called Tiger’s Den, provides students with tutorials, college preparation and a list of elective enrichment courses including sports, video gaming, cooking and ASL. One of Reid’s classmates, Priscilla Gonzalez, spent one weekday afternoon making pumpkin pies from scratch as part of a cooking class offered in the program.
“I hope more people check it out,” Gonzalez said. “There is a lot to do each day.”
The afterschool program is run by Teaching Fellows, a group of teaching students at Fresno State University that already run the afterschool program at Castle Rock Elementary school in Woodlake. Rosanna Ordonez, site director for WHS, said students seem to like the course offerings as attendance has averaged 100 students each day since the first week, Oct. 2-6, despite attendance not being mandatory. Current courses include cooking, arts and crafts, leadership, dance, job readiness, co-ed sports, and introduction to nursing. Some of the future enrichment courses being planned include robotics, modern fitness, cosmetology, gaming, computer programming, drama and fine art, media concepts, American sign language and DJ 101.
Ordonez said the program begins with a 30-minute snack, a half hour of mandatory homework assistance, followed by a 90-minute class or additional tutoring. Each Friday, the program offers 90 minutes of Fun Friday, meaning there are group activities planned outside of the confines of a specific class.
“We don’t want it to feel like they are still in school,” Ordonez said. “We want it feel more like home, but with the benefits of using their time constructively.”
WHS Principal Rick Rodriguez said the program is funded through the 21st Century High School After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens (ASSETs). This state-administered, federally funded program seeks to establish or expand before- and after-school programs that provide disadvantaged kindergarten through twelfth-grade students with academic enrichment opportunities and supportive services to help the students meet state and local standards in core content areas. The grant provides $250,000 per year to establish afterschool enrichment programs.
“It’s a great opportunity to do something beyond the school day,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a safe place for kids to hang out and do something that is more than academics, but to learn a skill or be active in a positive way.”
Rodriguez said the district has had good attendance in a short period of time. The funding was not announced until late September and WHS had to implement a program by the first week of October. This is the first time that WHS has received the funding in at least seven years, according to Rodriguez.