After-school enrichment programs are so popular at Alderwood and Cordata elementary schools that clubs fill up quickly and some have wait-lists. Nearly 400 students participate between the two schools, which is approximately 50% of the school populations. These after-school programs close the opportunity gap that exists in some communities. Enrichment programs have been shown to deepen connections with schools, and are a way to build confidence and social skills, while giving students a chance explore passions, skills and talents.
Each school offers 10 to 15 clubs. The club offerings include Color and Chillax Club, Crochet Club, Neighborhood Nature Club, Soccer Club (with the YMCA), Reading Buddies, Ukulele Club, Chess Club, Songwriting Club and much more. The clubs are an opportunity for students to make new friends and learn new skills. In addition to the fun clubs, the program includes a healthy snack, recess time, transportation home and family learning opportunities.
With all these benefits, students look forward to the clubs and, in fact, club participation appears to be having a positive effect on students’ school attendance. Over the past two years, students enrolled in after-school programming at Alderwood and Cordata elementary schools had better attendance than their peers who did not participate. The impact on attendance is even more obvious for students experiencing homelessness, with eight days absent for students in the clubs compared with 24.5 days absent for students who do not participate.
Nichole Buma, the after-school enrichment coordinator at Alderwood Elementary School, said the positive impact of these clubs is obvious.
“Our goal is to help counteract the adversities many of our students face and to close the opportunity gap. It is also an opportunity for them to learn new skills and build friendships,” Buma said. “After-school enrichment for the kids at Alderwood is so important. I received feedback from the surveys filled out recently and many of the students said that they like going to school now because of clubs.”
Alderwood and Cordata are able to provide these free and accessible after-school programs thanks to funding support from the United Way of Whatcom County and McDonald’s of Whatcom County.
Watch the video below to see some of the clubs in action.