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After School, Kids Are Creative, Active

Bennet Middle School students have plenty to keep them busy after school as well as during the day. From skiing to sewing, youngsters get a chance to be active and creative and give back to the community. Included: A description of some after school programs.

Bennet Middle School offers at least 14 afterschool activities, in addition to athletics, with choices to satisfy everyone from the athlete, to the Francophile, to the creative.

Both boys and girls play soccer and run on a cross country team. For the foreign and literary minded, there is a Book Club and a French Club.

In snowy New England, this also is the season for the brief but intense annual five-week life of the Skiing and Snowboarding Club, overseen by science teacher David Sutherland. About 30 students belong to the club; students and several faculty members go skiing/snowboarding, snow permitting, one day a week after school, from about 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The club also tries to schedule one day trip on a weekend.

"It works out well if they are on the [Royal 7] team," Mr. Sutherland says. "I've also seen some kids who weren't interested in other things, who were interested in this, and some snowboarders."

For the more indoor-inclined, Bennet also has a Family and Consumer Sciences Club, supervised by teacher Barbara Kastner. The club expands on some of the lessons and projects from family and consumer sciences classes, involves students in community service, and gives them a chance to be creative. Some students also appear after school to work on class projects.

"Look at my backpack!" Royal 7 Maggie says. Finished after two weeks of sewing, the cloth backpack is aqua with spots.

Between 20 and 25 students attend club meetings, depending on the project, Ms. Kastner says, as she reminds students to clean up after themselves. Trips bring out more students, and about 50 percent of the club members are boys.

Students have painted decorations on Main Street store windows and visited elderly residents at a nursing home.

Club members also are making fleece hats for babies, some of which will be donated to the elementary schools.

"One hat is for a baby I know, and I'm making another one," says Vicki, another Royal 7, who is bent over a sewing machine one afternoon. "I have to sew over my mistakes." Vicki asks Ms. Kastner for help, but she says no. "You have to practice," Ms. Kastner reminds her.


Education World Goes Back to School

Education World news editor Ellen R. Delisio is spending several days a month this school year with the Royal 7's, a seventh grade team at Bennet Middle School, a grade 6 to 8 school in Manchester, Connecticut. She is observing and participating in students' learning, and talking with staff about their strategies and perspectives on improving student performance. She is a graduate of W. Tresper Clarke Junior-Senior High School in Westbury, N.Y.


(Editor's Note: All students' names have been changed)

Article by Ellen R. Delisio
Education World®
Copyright © 2005 Education World