Serving the community since 1970

Expanded learning opportunities program benefits youth

Wasco Union Elementary School District offers its students a safe place to learn and keep active through its after-school programs, serving 200 to 300 youth at each elementary school site and over a hundred students at each middle school site.

Jennifer Fendrick is the coordinator for the extended day programs.

She explained that there are several components.

"The first is the ASES program which stands for after-school education and safety. This is for students from TK to 8th grade. It takes place until 6 pm in each elementary and middle school site," Fendrick said.

At the ASES program, students engage in physical fitness, do arts and crafts, perform music and learn about science, technology, engineering, coding and robotics, to name a few. They also get help with homework and are provided a snack.

"The purpose of ASES is to keep kids safe and off the streets where they can be fed and kept out of trouble. They can also connect with staff and build those relationships. We get to know the families, and they can get to know us, which ultimately helps the students succeed in their education," Fendrick said.

The second component is the extended day classes led by teachers after school for students TK to 8th grade. This also takes place at all the sites.

A mixture of academic and enrichment programs are offered. In addition, students are exposed to language, science and classes focused on helping students with math and reading skills.

"The hours vary, but it usually is about an hour after school," Fendrick said.

The third component is intersession days, which add 30 extra school days spread throughout the year, which include summer school and camps. This is for up to 6th grade students and is offered at all elementary and middle schools.

"Each site offers a variety of activities based on the teacher and student interest," Fendrick said.

Finally, there are camps that take place over the holidays. Each site gets an opportunity to host the two-day camps that take place between 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Breakfast and lunch are served.

All after-school programs are free, and most staff have an educational background to accommodate the students better.

Within each component, Fendrick said the after-school program aids students by giving them a safe and warm environment to cultivate new skills and develop socially, emotionally and academically. They also learn to collaborate, problem-solve, be responsible and become team players.

"These skills will help them be more successful later in life. It helps them find their interests too. If they are struggling in another area, they can shine in a new light," Fendrick said. "We set goals on how to be a better person."

Fendrick believes this program expands a child's educational opportunities.

"It provides them with experiences they may not have done before, like cooking and music. Many of these kids are having so much fun they don't want to go home."

Eric Caballero is the expanded learning opportunity program supervisor. He oversees the Karl F. Clemens Elementary School site.

"Since it's my first year, I've seen so many great things thus far, from kids laughing and enjoying the program. It's just a wonderful opportunity for them to start fresh. They are excited to come to the after-school activities," Caballero said.

"The best part is building rapport with students and other colleagues. We really strive to have good relationships with the school sites to make it as interactive and engaging as possible for everyone."

Fendrick said the programs continue to grow.

"The programs are going so well, and we are looking for new ways to expand."


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