Students at Dauphin Junior High School now have the opportunity to participate in an enrichment program that offers sessions in art, gaming and chess.
Alane Williams, instructional partner at Dauphin Junior High, oversees the program that began in February. She said the money from the programs came from a grant dedicated to closing achievement gaps for students.
Since the school already had an after school program for struggling students, Williams said they decided to use the money to create a program that all students could participate in. The program was designed with the goal of providing students with the opportunity to connect with fellow students while exploring the things that interest them.
“The purpose of our enrichment program is to engage students, exercise and sharpen their critical thinking skills and keep students motivated and interested in learning,” Williams said. “These activities also help us support and develop our students’ individual strengths and interests as well.”
She said they also wanted to use the program to motivate students to perform better in school. To participate in the program, students have to maintain passing grades and good behavior at school.
“We’ve had students that normally won’t sign up to do anything who have signed up to be in gaming, knowing that their grades would have to stay above passing in order to stay in the program, so it’s really a motivator for those kids to perform well,” Williams said.
Sarah Patty, a history teacher, teaches the art program. Each week, students are given different prompts and projects to work on. She said they have mainly focused on drawing and painting so far, but she has plans for other art forms in the future.
Patty said her goals are to help the students improve their artistic abilities and a way to express them.
“I want to give them an outlet after school to be creative and be free,” Patty said.
While art and chess both have 12 students in their weekly sessions, the gaming option has 39. Williams said it was so popular they added a second one. In these sessions, students play the popular games Fortnite and Rocket League.
“Next year, we want to look into getting into actual e-sports where students can earn scholarships,” Williams said.
Williams said they wanted to start out the program with just three subjects and expand in the future. Now that the program, especially the gaming sessions, has gained popularity, she said they will probably expand the program next year as long as they still have the funding.