Learning Opportunity


By: ROGER HOLSINGER, Assistant Editor

While many students are required to participate in Gering Junior High School’s Extended Learning Opportunities program, nearly as many students participate because they want to improve their grades or help other students.

From that point of view, the program is already successful.

About three weeks ago, the new after-school class was introduced in Gering, which is intended to help students improve their grades.

Principal Maurie Deines said the ELO program was started as a way for students to not only improve their grades, but also to reach their potential.

“If they’re not living up to that potential, teachers can assign them to an after-school experience or a student can advocate for themselves and volunteer to come get help,” he said.

Classes are held from 3:45 to 5:30 p.m. Students who arrive by bus may go home at 4:45 p.m. Students assigned to classes will stay until 5:30 p.m., but those who volunteer may leave once they have received the help they need.

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Deines said the school’s mission statement says the school strives to ensure that every student is successful, “and we really try to live that mission. It goes from our school board to our superintendent to us, and so our intention is to carry that out.”

He said the junior high school years can often be a difficult transition period for students as they move from primary school to secondary school and have to prepare for it.

“We wanted to make sure that we had an academic environment where we could accommodate the kids who were still struggling with the transition or who wanted to come on their own to improve their grades and study skills,” Deines said.

The same program was implemented at the high school last year. Deines said that after evaluating that program, school officials decided to start it at the junior high school.

The program has become so popular that Deines said he worries about space, as the lunchroom is often full of students. In addition to the ELO students, detention students also meet in the lunchroom, and Deines said he wants to change that. Right now, the class averages about 40 students.

Deines said he thinks students appreciate the class and that parents seem to support it as well. In addition to the teachers helping the students, other students have volunteered to tutor.

Mikaela Gonzalez has been in class for three weeks now and although she sometimes gets bored, she also notices that the lessons help her improve her grades.

Julia Fuentes agreed with Gonzalez that the course helps.

“I’m getting my work done and my grades are improving,” Fuentes said.

Don Phipps, a math teacher at the school, said the success of the lessons has not yet been determined. However, he did say the program is successful because there are students who take the lessons, but it is not mandatory.

English teacher Yvonne Smith said many students in the class are preparing for or revising for tests. Others, she said, are there simply because they need extra help.

Smith said she sees the classes as an opportunity for her students to improve their grades and complete assignments for which help is available.

“I see the goals as an intervention for students who are failing and that intervention helps them to succeed.

“It also encourages students who are struggling to come and get help because we see that there are just as many volunteers for this class as there are those who are required to. I see that as a great success,” Smith said.


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