Huy Tran, principal Dr. Luis Landa, Mary CastilloCASE for Kids Program at Local High School Rocks with Activities Before, After School
Sophomore Lluvia Lopez gets dropped off by her working mom on school mornings at 6:45 a.m. at Chavez High School in southeast Houston.
The petite, high-spirited sophomore is a newbie from Corpus Christi, and she comes inside the gym to finish her homework and watch her friend Jastin Sambula play basketball.
Chavez has a mixing bowl of offerings, including the running club, the Asian-American club, chess club, the business-entrepreneurial club, and tutorials and sports.
The gym is hopping by 7 a.m., and head basketball coach Julius Jackson is there to supervise. The program is called out-of-school time because services are offered before-and-after the school day, on weekends and in the summer.
Chavez’s program serves approximately 175 students and is a 21st Century Community Learning Center federally funded through the Center for Afterschool, Summer and Enrichment for Kids, or CASE for Kids, a division of Harris County Department of Education. It’s also infused with funding through City Connections, a program provided through the city of Houston through each council district and operated through CASE for Kids.
“When people think of out-of-school time programs, they typically envision programs at lower grade levels,” said Lisa Thompson-Caruthers, director for CASE for Kids. “High school programs are equally as important because they allow teens to have a safe space to go before school starts and after school ends, as well as Saturdays and summer. Afterschool enriches teens lives and exposes them to new hobbies and career possibilities.”
Over 70 percent of students at Chavez are from low-income families. The predominantly Hispanic school has an English as a second language population which also includes Asian-speaking students.
Chavez’s coordinator Carolyn Teas gets to school as early as 5 a.m. to prepare for the school day and oversee teens in the running club. The Houston Marathon is involved in the program and donates funds for tennis shoes, as does local petrochemical company TPC.
Junior Mary Castillo arrives at school at 7 a.m. to plan activities for the Asian-American club with president Huy Tran, a senior. She is also involved in the business club and will help develop an entrepreneurial product this year through Junior Achievement. After school, both Castillo and Tran stay late for extracurricular activities.
“It’s nice to have a commonality among students where there is less fighting and more getting along,” said Castillo.
At Chavez, all ethnicities join the ranks of the Asian-American club because of the popularity craze of K-pop and K-dance brought on boyband BTS, often compared to the Beatles.
For Lopez, before- and after-school activities are important, and she is giving her new school a thumbs-up.
“It’s good to have things to do around here, because if you don’t, kids will get bored and tired,” she said. “And that’s not good.”
(CASE for Kids is an afterschool intermediary which provides resources, training and afterschool services for 17,441 students and teachers in greater Harris County. For more information about how to get involved with afterschool, go to http://hcde-texas.org/after-school.)
Why do teens need afterschool or out-of-school time?
- Juvenile crime triples between 3-6 p.m., and youth are more like to become victims.
- Self-care and boredom increase the likelihood that youth will experiment with drugs and alcohol as much as 50 percent.
- Teens need additional help preparing for college and the workforce.
- Reaching out to teens can be challenging, and afterschool helps by providing mentors.
(Research through www.afterschoolalliance.org.)