After school program goes to Santa Fe

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On Feb. 7, Zimmerly Elementary School fourth and fifth grade students from the after school program took a field trip to the capitol in Santa Fe. The students went to lobby for money for the after school program, said head of teachers Janice Jaramillo.

Rebecca Apodaca/El Defensor Chieftain: The City of Socorro Youth Center after school program in Santa Fe.

Zimmerly joined Kirtland Elementary School and Delores Gonzales Elementary School from Albuquerque and El Dorado Community School in Santa Fe. Socorro Youth Center’s fourth and fifth graders were invited to attend, and they did. Students chosen to attended the field trip from the after school program were chosen based on attendance and good behavior, she said.

Not all students from the after school program went to Santa Fe because of the limited amount of space on the bus, Jaramillo said. Last year Socorro Consolidated Schools received the after school grant for San Antonio and Zimmerly elementary schools. The grant is funded for four years and the schools will continue to have the program for three more years, then apply for it again, she said.

“The students attend after school for various reasons like parent requests, intervention and homework help,” Jaramillo said.

Planning for the trip at the capitol began in October with 33 students and 10 parents who attended, she said. The students went to promote the after school House Bill 278 at the legislative session, and they also went to support the funding for the after school program because it helps students be successful in their school as well as developing as a better student, she said.

Jaramillo said students had their own agenda packet, received a lot of information and were excited. At the Capitol, students participated in two parts. For the first part, students learned about the past and history of the state capitol, she said. For the second part, students were broken up into three groups and each had a guide and were given a tour in different areas.

They participated in activities throughout the day and learned about the culture of the building and the legislative process, she said. Prior to their visit as a request from the after school alliance, for their homework assignment, students had to write a letter to a legislative member of why after school programs are important.

Submitted photo: Zimmerly Elementary after school program in the Round House in Santa Fe, N.M.

They wrote their letters to different senators and representatives and handed the note to them in Santa Fe, she said. During the morning session, students toured the governor’s office, and the Parent Teacher Alliance Committee met with parents who were informed about the funding and the importance of after school programs, she said.

Fourth grader Mara Rapson said her mom wants her to be in the after school program because she thought it would be fun, she said.

“I like the program because I like everything, and hiking the most because it helps me explore,” Rapson said.

Jaramillo, who serves as coordinator for the after school program at Zimmerly, she said the school received funding for the program on Nov. 26. After school, students meet in the cafeteria and eat a snack and get a recess for the first 15 minutes and are then placed in four different groups with no more than 12 students per group, she said.

The after school program targets students who need help in school subjects or are not proficient in reading and math, she said. Some students in the after school program were recommended by teachers to get assistance for subject needs. The after school program also gets parent requests for their child to be in the program for other reasons, she said.

Currently 62 students are enrolled in the after school program who also get homework help, or if the students don’t have homework, they work on the Accelerator Reader online program to track reading and comprehension, she said. All students transition to different classes for reading and math to focus on a certain area and then participate in the renovation block for reading and math twice a week.

Submitted photo by Janice Jaramillo: Zimmerly Elementary School students from the after school program participate in activities, with hiking that takes place on Fridays. The students went on a hike to Box Canyon Hike. From Back to front, left to right is Jacob Vaiza (group leader), Joshua Sarate, Matthew Arellin, Samantha Otero, Joelynn Montoya, Autumn Bjorklund and Grace Ledesma.

Students in the program participate in fine arts classes with hands-on activities, P.E., computers, drama and public speaking. There is also academic support for reading and math skills which is an intervention enrichment class for SBA test preparation, she said. The after school program continues until 5 p.m. every day.

“It’s a positive thing, 90 percent of the students enjoy coming and some are encouraged to come, a majority do want to be here,” Jaramillo said.

Hiking takes place every other Friday and attendance is consistent on Fridays because students don’t have homework, Jaramillo said. Also on Fridays, students dedicate two hours to gardening and school improvement, planting and yard clean up. There are usually 45 kids who go with hiking leader Robert Wulff to places around the county.

Fourth grade student Gabriel Chavez is in the after school program because he needed to improve his reading scores and being in the program has helped.

“I like the computer with Ms. Janice to go on Reflex math because I now get multiplication facts,” Chavez said.

The after school program employs high school students or students who just graduated, she said. There are eight high school students who are involved with the after school program, and four of those went to Santa Fe, she said.

Fifth grade student said she is in the program because of a low math score.

“Being in the after school program helped increase my math score with the games that are taught to me,” said fifth grader Autumn Bjorklund. Since she has been in the after school program, her math grade has improved, she said.

The focus of the program is to provide opportunities for students to experience activities and skills that they may not have available during the regular school day, Jaramillo said.

“My goal for students is to expose them to as many activities as possible, even if we do not give them a choice, because they find that after trying something different they usually like it,” Jaramillo said. “For example, the first hiking trip we went on, we had various complaints with huffing and puffing, and numbers were low, but now there are no more complaints, our numbers have grown, our students are reaching out to other students on how fun it is, and the complaining has stopped. They are engaged and having fun.”