Studying. Test-taking. Both actions are necessary components of education, but Jasper Jr. High School is setting the bar a bit higher by creating a block specifically for activity participation and …
Studying. Test-taking. Both actions are necessary components of education, but Jasper Jr. High School is setting the bar a bit higher by creating a block specifically for activity participation and socialization.
Once a month, all students participate for 30 minutes in an extracurricular activity during school hours, and there's something for everyone.
"We kind of rearranged our whole schedule," assistant principal Amy O'Rear said. "A lot of kids are not able to participate in clubs because they're after school and they don't have transportation."
"It gives them something besides just work," physical science teacher Lori Wiginton said. "Some of them don't have parents at home. Their parents are working, and they don't have anybody there to do some of these fun little activities with. It helps them be more engaged with their teacher. It gives them a mentor."
The school has incorporated a variety of clubs by utilizing the interests of educators who can teach students skills they won't learn in everyday classroom activities.
Among many clubs is the new knitting club that will not only help students learn the art of knitting but the importance of giving back. The hats and blankets they craft will be donated to area NICU babies.
A cross-stitching club is also being offered, as well as a club for fans of Harry Potter; a Fix It Club to teach repair skills; and a group for fans of Disney.
Instructor Whit Tucker is sponsoring a Technology Student Association group for students and oversees the school's BEST (Boosting Engineering Science and Technology) Robotics team. His Technology Club encompasses robotics instruction and the many areas of growth in the tech industry.
"My club centers around what I do as a career tech person in the building. I teach robotics and a pre-engineering course," he said. "It allows the kids to be able to apply some of those skills in a creative way that they can then take and compete against others with."
Wiginton is sponsoring the 4H group this year, which now incorporates STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities with the traditional lessons on agriculture.
O'Rear oversees one of the school's new clubs to inspire teen girls called G.R.E.A.T. (Girls Relaxing Eating and Achieving Together).
"Our plan is we're going to learn some basic cooking skills, some no-bake recipes. We're going to be talking about issues that girls are dealing with in the seventh- and eighth-grade and talking about how to be a lady," O'Rear said. "If we're making something while we're talking it makes it a little more comfortable to have those conversations."
Principal Lutis Moore's club, JUMP, takes a similar approach but instead serves to mentor teen boys through service and leadership.
"It's based on giving guys a solid form of mentoring and decision-making, and we also do some community service as well," Moore said. "It's all about inspiring young men to be what we're destined to be and that's young men with leadership potential."
O'Rear spoke of the school's House system, which divides the student body into groups and is aimed at creating friendships and fostering mentor opportunities. She says encouraging club involvement is simply an extension of House.
"We do the House system to have a place to belong. This is another place where everybody will have a place to belong," she said.
Tucker added, "It definitely helps the kids to not get lost in the crowd."