Over the years, studies have shown that if kids are engaged at their school, positive results follow. Crook County School District took that information to heart and is offering a variety of unique after school programs to engage their student body.
It’s Tuesday afternoon at Crook County high school and the final class bell rang an hour ago, but kids are still in the building.
In the library, the Dungeons and Dragons club is in full swing.
“Last year, a student approached me and was like, ‘We don’t we don’t have a club for Dungeons and Dragons. Can we do it at school?’ And I was stoked because I grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons. I still play Dungeons and Dragons,” said Crook County High School teacher Anthony Carmack. “And so immediately I was like, Yes, let’s do this. And it’s really grown into something super fun.”
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It’s one of many new unique after school programs that the district is offering the student body.
“It gives me something to do honestly, other than just kind of sitting at home,” said freshman Justice Storm.
Over at the middle school, it’s the same story. Middle schoolers are baking their latest culinary masterpieces in the Cookie Club. On this day, it was lemon butter.
The district has made a concerted effort to meet kids at their particular interests. They realize there’s huge positive benefits to offering kids activities that keep them engaged, keep them at school longer and keep them out of trouble.
“We see attendance, you know, engagement, student engagement just increased massively when there’s high interests and specific things and clubs are a great way to do that,” said Carmack.
They also realize not all students are interested in the more traditional sports and clubs.
“I like cooking. I guess I’m kind of an enthusiast of cooking,” said 7th grader Weston Coshow.
“Whenever I’m here, I definitely get to socialize with new people, and I’m not usually used to that,” said Justice. “So it definitely kind of gets me out of my shell and I have met a couple of new friends.”
“My favorite part of the cooking class is probably that I get to do with my friends and like work as a group to make really good treats,” said 7th grader Gabi Ramos.
The Dungeons and dragons club and cookie club are just two of 26 offerings district wide, and the participation numbers are impressive. At the high school level, participation numbers are hovering around 70%.
“It definitely enhances everything. When you have something to look forward to, it gives you a reason to strive. It gives you a reason to make it to the end of the week so that the next week can start. And it’s definitely a highlight no matter what,” said sophomore Mashawn Sanchez.
Teachers say the difference in some students is night and day.
“The students really benefit from having time to come, come down from school, connect with their friends, use their imaginations. Not just get on a phone, not just watch TV, but like actually engage with creative opportunities. And I think that happens here,” said Carmack.
“It brings us all together. And our our little school has a great community,” said Crook County Middle School teacher Julia Neuhaus.
Some of the additional clubs being offered are book club, E-sports, sewing, construction club, martial arts, FFA and more.