From math to sports marketing, students get extra boost with program

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Sophomores Diego Silva (left) and Micaela Muniz (right) settle in for an hour of computer lab during the first afternoon session of the Community Learning Center at Forest Grove High School. Spending time in this lab helps keep me on top of my homework, said Silva. And Muniz added, Being involved with the CLC is a good place to focus and get help with my school work.  The Community Learning Center is just over six weeks old, and already it’s becoming the “in” thing to do after the last bell rings for hundreds of students at Forest Grove High School and Tom McCall Upper Elementary.

“We’re offering students the opportunity to enrich their academic experiences and be better prepared for graduation through more than 30 academic tutoring and personal enrichment programs,” said the center’s director, Michele Hetrick. “The CLC’s growth has been amazing. Since opening our doors on Oct. 28, we have grown to more than 600 students at the high school and 300 at Tom McCall — all willing to extend their school day from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

“And we’re literally getting hands-full of applications every day. It’s exciting for us and for the kids.”

There are other CLCs in the state, but Forest Grove’s program was designed and implemented by Hetrick, a licensed teacher and administrator, and program specialist Rigo Loeza, who assists at the high school and spends two days at Tom McCall.

“Rigo and I were hired the end of August,” Hetrick said. “We applied for a 21st Century CLC five-year grant through the Oregon Department of Education and were awarded a total of $2 million. We received $474,000 in start-up funds this year, and we’re being very careful how we spend, asking first, ‘How is this going to impact the students?’” by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - At the Community Learning Center, students are offered a wide variety of enrichment opportunities such as the Poetry Club.

The high school’s extended day begins at 3:15 p.m. in the cafeteria, where Hetrick hands out snacks of fruit and chips to students on their way to computer, math or language labs — or to one of the more than 20 personal enrichment programs, such as drama, field trip, sports marketing or poetry clubs.

“We also have a recreation room with pool tables, a ping-pong table, air hockey and video and board games,” said Hetrick. “This is a fun place where kids can spend their time between labs or clubs. And starting in January, we will begin serving full meals.”

She added that special transportation is provided at 5:30 p.m., with four buses running routes to Forest Grove and Cornelius from the high school, and two buses from Tom McCall, one at 4:15 and another at 5:15.

CLC also holds Saturday tutoring classes from 8 to 11 a.m., and a DJ Club from 9:30 to 11 a.m. taught by a Forest Grove resident who works in the music business. During this time, students learn how to create programs and play lists, as well as learn about the music industry.

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Pool, ping pong and video games are available in the recreation room at the Community Learning Center, where students can spend time between class or club time. The CLC partners with Pacific University, AmeriCorps, Rotary and the district. “We have students from Pacific who help with math labs and in the rec room, and an AmeriCorps-provided teacher who helps with labs and clubs,” noted Hetrick.

The beyond-the-school-day programs are not just Hetrick’s baby — the CLC is a community-wide project. “This isn’t limited to school staff,” she said. “We are looking for parents and community members to serve as academic tutors, recreation mentors, sports assistants, guest speakers, a dance instructor and anyone with special skills or a hobby.

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