The following was contributed by the JC Breakfast Optimist Club.
The program was presented by Mary Cay Stauffer and James Russell with the Boys and Girls Club, which is a part of USD 475. Their activities are for USD 475 students in grades Kindergarten through 12th grade. James shared that there is an early morning program, which begins at 5:30 AM for elementary school students. Students are then bussed to their school and if the parents choose to have their child enrolled in the after-school program, students can be bussed back to the Boys and Girls Club after school at the Heim Building. The exception is that students at Washington and Grandview Elementary have their own programs because of a grant they received. The Freshman Success Academy (FSA) is also included in after-school programs, which has about 409 students involved in after-school tutoring and monitoring support. A program titled “Check and Connect” is used to verify that students are not only doing their homework, turning in the homework after it is completed, participating in class and performing to their potential through regular contacts with teachers and building a positive relationship with students.
Both Mary Cay and James referred to space to have programs as a challenge. “If there were more space for inside and outside activities, more students could/would be involved in the Boys and Girls Club.” There are children on a waiting list, but because of the lack of space, there is a limit to the number of students who can properly and safely be served. The passage of the recent bond issue to build a “New JCHS” provides more options, especially with the possibility of using the FSA. “We need a permanent home for the Boys and Girls Club”, James stated.
“James also told the Optimist Club members that students vote with their feet and if they don’t have activities that are different from the regular school day, they won’t come.” Activities and equipment is available that include computer programming, drones, robotics, bubble soccer and physical movement are of interest to youth, but without a facility to do these things, students won’t come. With gym, court and field facilities, the Boys and Girls Club could be a “feeder program” to teach students basic skills to be used in USD 475 athletic programs.
An essential part of the program is helping students with their homework. Mary Cay stated that there are two things parents want most from the Boys and Girls Club. One is a safe place for their child to be at with proper supervision. The second is to give help with the child’s homework and get it done before the child comes home. “Parents tell us they can’t help with the school work brought home. It is more than getting the correct answer, but it is about the process of getting to the correct answer that is important to the child’s learning. Parents often don’t know the process the teacher wants the student to follow to get the correct answer.”
The cost for students to be involved in the Boys and Girls Club is based on the parent’s income. James added that “with more space, more students can be involved and the cost can come down.” He also stated that when more students are involved in before and after-school programs, there are fewer problems at home and in our community.