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The City Journals

Woodrow Wilson after-school program thrives

Dec 02, 2016 01:59PM ● By Aspen Perry

Children built and tested solar-powered s'more oven during WWCS Summer of Adventure Program. (Bonnie Owens/WWCS Afterschool Program Coordinator)

By Aspen Perry | [email protected]

Woodrow Wilson Community School’s (WWCS) after-school program exceeds goals to help their kids thrive with more programs being offered than originally slated and double the enrollment of two years ago. All this helps ensure kids are college and career ready. 

In November 2014, WWCS Director Lindsey Edwards announced on the United Way of Salt Lake blog site, the after-school program would be doubling in size, which at that time, served 100 students. 

Edwards also stated the expansion would include a STEM program with students from Westminster College helping in mentoring and tutoring. 

Just two years later the program continues to thrive and exceed expectations. The program currently has 198 students enrolled and has been able to expand upon program activities. After four years with the WWCS, Bonnie Owens, after-school program coordinator, loves her job. 

“I have the best job in the world… It is fun and challenging in all the best ways… Our kids and families are hard working and invested… it’s an honor to share in their joys, celebrate their successes, cry with them in times of sadness, and help in their times of need,” Owens said. 

This year kids enrolled in the program have enjoyed interest-based activities, engaged in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) activities, as well as received academic tutoring and homework help, and participated in service learning projects all geared toward preparing them for college and career readiness. 

One STEM activity highlighted in the September WWCS newsletter was a solar-powered s’more oven the students built and tested during the Summer of Adventure program.

In addition to all the weekday activities, every Friday the kids attend field trips to popular spots in the valley, including Clark Planetarium, Red Butte Gardens, Wheeler Farm, Living Planet Aquarium, and much more.

Much like other program activities, field trips incorporate the focus of the program’s goals: STEM, global learning, and college and career readiness, in a playful fun way.  

“During the field trip to the zoo, we talked about what type of jobs the animals would have, which the kids really got a kick out of,” Owens said. 

“We also have a partnership with Westminster and one of the field trips was a college tour, the tour included getting to watch the women’s soccer team, which was huge for the kids, soccer is a big part of a lot of their lives,” Owens said. 

Along with academics and play-based learning, another important element is the dinner program called Kids Café. As with other Promise South Salt Lake Programs, WWCS after-school program recognizes the importance nutrition has on a child’s behavior, academic success, and well being.

Owens explained they are often in need of adult mentors. 

“The more adult mentors we have, the better we are able to meet the academic needs of individual kids. We especially encourage adult mentors whose racial, ethnic, and linguistic identities reflect the diversity of our kids,” said Owens.  

During the holiday season WWCS after-school program has a number of fun events taking place. The Workers Compensation Fund will host their annual Winter Party, where they bring fun, winter-themed activities and give each child a small gift to take home. 

Given the rich cultural and religious diversity of the program, Christmas is not the only holiday to be highlighted. Each year they choose an additional holiday to learn about as a way to celebrate both differences and similarities, explained Owens. 

“This year we’ll be leading several lessons and activities to teach the kids about Kwanzaa,” said Owens.  

The program also holds Family Nights. December’s Family Night will take place Thursday, December 15 from 6-8 p.m.

“It will be a game night with dinner, family crafts, and bingo with lots of prizes.” Owens said.