Tyler Benevides, center, shows does a show and tell of digital photos he took during the after school B.A.M. activity "Photography Studio" at Floyd Dryden.
Instructor Melanie McGrath of SEARHC, center, talks to students during outdoor adventure games at Dzantik'i Heeni.
Story last updated at 12/26/2012 - 4:12 pm
Organized after school activities have proven to be critical in promoting better student success in school nationally. Unfortunately, over half of Juneau's middle school students are most often on their own when school gets out, according to the 2011-12 AASB School Climate and Connectedness Survey of students.
"Juneau is a community with lots of caring adults and organizations, but way too many kids, especially those most 'at risk,' have not been connecting with after school activities," said Kevin Ritchie, volunteer with the Juneau Afterschool Coalition (JASC). "Research shows those activities can have a substantial positive impact, while youth left alone when many parents are at work can learn negative behaviors that hinder their development and academic achievement."
National research shows youth crime and substance abuse rates triple from the time school ends until parents get off work.
Now, students at Floyd Dryden Middle School and Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School are participating in new community-based activities sponsored by JASC in cooperation with the Juneau School District, City and Borough of Juneau, and numerous community organizations.
The new program, B.A.M. (Body & Mind, Before/After Middle School) was named in a student contest and vote at both schools last spring. In cooperation with Floyd Dryden and Dzantik'i Heeni, B.A.M. opens the schools to community groups and individuals to offer more diverse activities in addition to traditional sports and other school-sponsored offerings. It is designed to give kids an academic boost and a reason to avoid risky behaviors by sparking new interests and connecting them to adult mentors at their schools outside the school day.
Safe Sitter baby sitting training offered by Bartlett Hospital, Outdoor Adventure Games offered by SEARHC and SAGA and Photography Studio led by a local photographer kicked off the new program at both schools. About 40 students at each school participated in those activities. Rock the Learner's Permit offered by SERRC's AK Drive program is underway at both schools, and Jr. Police Academy offered by the Juneau Police Department and Dick
and Dave's Archery led by two retired teachers are coming up at Dzantik'i Heeni.
"The B.A.M program offers a safe and welcoming environment for children to learn new skills and have fun in the process," said Molly Yerkes, Dzantik'i Heeni principal.
Dzantik'i Heeni 6th graders Joseph Sypeck and Alex Wehe agreed.
"It's great getting outside, getting fresh air and doing stuff with friends," Sypeck said.
He said he also liked learning how to download pictures. Wehe said he learned to trust teammates in a B.A.M. activity and that communication is key.
"It's a real good opportunity to get up, move around have some fun with friends and maybe meet new friends," Wehe said.
Floyd Dryden 8th grader Tyler Benevides liked the fact that activities he did were instructional and practical.
"It was fun," he said. "We got to go out and do stuff."
Seventh-grader Ellie Alsup said the two activities she signed up for were "really really fun and definitely not a waste of time." She learned the Heimlich maneuver which will be useful when she babysits and "a lot of things I'd hadn't even heard of before" about using a digital camera.
B.A.M. takes advantage of free classrooms and other school facilities, an in-place activity bus system, and school staff who help recruit kids into fun and enriching activities when school is over for the day. Similar models nationally show the per student cost of providing after school activities in this way can be very low.
"The key ingredients to sustainability of rich after school opportunities are continued strong support of the school district and principals, the modest financial support of the CBJ, and the involvement of community organizations, like Rotary and Tlingit and Haida Central Council that provide activities and educate the community on the need to keep our kids positively active afterschool," said Kevin Ritchie.
B.A.M. is supported by 17 diverse organizations that joined forces in 2010 to create JASC and a sustainable program of activities at both middle schools. Partners include City & Borough of Juneau, Juneau School District, Catholic Community Service, University of Alaska Southeast, Juneau Youth Services, Association of Alaska School Boards, Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Juneau-Gastineau Rotary Club, Glacier Valley Rotary Club, Juneau Rotary Club, United Way, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska, Juneau Economic Development Council, National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence, UAF Cooperative Extension Service/4H, AWARE, and Communities in Schools.
Initial funding for JASC was provided by Juneau Community Foundation, City and Borough of Juneau, Juneau School District, Tlingit & Haida Central Council, Catholic Community Service, Association of Alaska School Boards, UAS, Crossett Fund, Gaguine Foundation, and Juneau Youth Services.
For results of JSD and JASC surveys of Juneau middle school students and more information contact:
Betsy Brenneman, Program Coordinator, Juneau Afterschool Coalition 463-1899 ext 214, firstname.lastname@example.org