Wings continues to soar
by Mike Eldred
Nov 24, 2013 | 3594 views | 0 0 comments | 224 224 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Jr. Iron Chef team during a competition at Twin Valley Middle School. The program is a popular Wings offering.
A Jr. Iron Chef team during a competition at Twin Valley Middle School. The program is a popular Wings offering.
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WHITINGHAM- Participation in the Wings Community Programs at all three Twin Valley schools appears to be on the rise, according to information provided by Wings program director Andy Haughty.

At Deerfield Valley Elementary School (now Twin Valley Elementary School) 99% of students participated in at least one Wings program last year, compared with 92% the year before. Perhaps even more dramatically, the total amount of hours students spent in Wings programs is up by almost 700, for a total of 5,198 student hours.

This year the DVES and Whitingham Elementary programs have been successfully combined, said TVES site coordinator Patsy Mehlhop. “It has been delightful to learn and get to know a whole new population of students and parents.”

During the first Wings session, 54% of students participated in a program, Mehlhop said, but the number was limited by availability. “There were kids on waiting lists,” she said. “I was able to pull together some classes to bring it up to 60%, and now it’s up to 64%. It’s sad to tell kids they’re on a waiting list, but we needed 60 more slots, There’s a real interest and passion for coming to an after- school program, and going to 5 pm has been dynamite.”

Mehlhop said one of the programs, the homework club, has changed its strategy. “Kids are doing things more attuned to what their needs are, and I think that has worked out well for the kids.”

Other programs of note include an upcoming holiday craft session in collaboration with Pettee Memorial Library, and a radio-controlled car program for older students. “My experience with radio-controlled cars are the ones you get at Wal-Mart,” Mehlhop said. “These are different, pretty serious, remote-controlled cars. Kids learned things like changing tires and bodies.” She said students ran their RC cars on a track behind the school building.

The middle’ school’s participation was up by about 2% to 98%, but the number of hours students spent in programs remained identical at 4,637. Samantha Ambrose, site coordinator at the middle school, said two of their new programs, the breakfast club and active club, were initiated in reaction to a change in the bus schedule. “Because of the early busing, we have some kids getting here early. Kids can come in early and get their homework done if they haven’t already, and use the Internet if they don’t have it at home. We started the active club in the morning to get kids out of the building.”

As always, the middle school Jr. Iron Chef program remains a popular choice for students, but Ambrose said there were other cooking programs as well, including a holiday cooking class. And this year, Twin Valley Middle School students won the district spelling bee under the tutelage of Ann Sulzman.

Participation at the high school level has always been lower than that of elementary and middle school students, but over the last two years high school participation has ballooned. Running from 53% to 57% during the first three years, it shot up to 82% two years ago, and 87% last year.

TVHS site coordinator Karen Molina said students have several different types of programs to choose from, including the FRESH room, a place to hang out, offering refreshments, Wi-Fi, and even an air hockey table. FRESH is the name of the high school’s Wings program.

High school students also have a number of academic programs to choose from, including homework club and breakfast club, as well as a program to help prepare students for SATs, and tech workshops. “We’ve also developed a strong tutoring program at the high school that’s helping a lot of kids struggling to get through their freshman and sophomore years,” Molina said.

Like the middle school program, the high school Jr. Iron Chef program continues to attract a lot of participants. Haughty told board members that the current federal funding for Wings programs would run out in 2014, but the organization plans to apply for renewed funding.
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