Extra-curricular activities (ECAs) for elementary students, although limited, are extremely valuable and as varied as the imagination.
The benefits of generating social skills while participating in an ECA has been documented over the years. And for some students it is a reason to come to school.
"They have a good time learning the basics of a sport while deciding if this is something they want to compete at in a higher level," said Steve Hoopingarner, 5th grade teacher at Van Buren Elementary. He coaches various after-school sports activities during the school year, with a basketball program in process now. "Also, it gives them a chance to run off some of that built-up energy."
Elementary boys and girls can participate in most of the sports activities available to older students at higher grades, including fitness and dance classes available at some schools, but on a limited time basis.
For those wanting to learn more, or needing help with their lessons, there are various academic clubs available for young students.
Meridian Elementary students benefit from being able to walk to school for participation in many of the scheduled after-school programs. The homework club, a very popular ECA at Meridian, is one that reaches students in need of a little boost.
"Our program was created for 3rd and 4th graders because the math at those levels can be difficult for students," Instructional Assistant Cindy Stiffler said. She helped to create the program four years ago to help students learn difficult math concepts that parents might be unable to help their child while at home. The program is available after school Monday through Thursday till 4 p.m. It has grown to include 5th graders and any subject students may be having difficulty learning in class. "Parents like the fact that their child can receive help with difficult subjects that they themselves might be a little rusty on, or unfamiliar with."
East Side Elementary also has programs that help give students a boost in their studies while raising their self esteem by making learning fun through.
"All these programs help students do better in school while building self confidence and leadership skills," said Rachel Fagg, a 4th grade teacher at East Side Elementary. "Students learn to deal with the public by learning and using positive communication and people skills in programs like spelling bees, book fairs and the science fairs."
Emily Latta, East Side Elementary's winner of the Annual Tribune-Star Wabash Valley Regional Spelling Bee, is a 5th grader in Mrs. Packard's class and Student Council President.
"It was fun," Emily said about participating in the Spelling Bee. She is excited about having more ECA options in middle school. "I want to try out for band because I like music. But I also want to help with the fund raising and things that student council does."
Student council, choir, photography and working on the school newspaper are other activities that go beyond student involvement to become community events through attendance of family and friends.
"We plan evening events so that parents can come and spend time with their children enjoying activities at school," Staunton Elementary PTO President April Mishler said about the Bingo for Books program held at the Staunton Elementary on Wednesday evening. "It is always a fun time for faculty, students and their families. Students enjoy spending time with their parents playing Bingo. And if the parents or students win, they get to choose a book to take home and keep. We promote reading within the family through this event."
Statistical information from December 2004 provided by Clay Community School Corporation and an ECA Study/Questionaire during the month of January.
Tomorrow: What are the wages for ECA staffing at the secondary level?