BRIGHTON — On Friday afternoons, the classrooms where Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School students toil over their academics during the week are transformed into a camp-like atmosphere for Friday clubs.
The Friday clubs program offer a host of activities designed to allow the kids let loose and see another side of their school. This is the inaugural year for the program, which has been met with enormous participation by students, teachers and staff.
“We wanted to offer more opportunities for the students to build a community with school staff without the pressure of academics,” said Vicki Paige, instructional coach Pre-K-5th grade/assistant principal. “Teachers, paraprofessionals, office staff and custodians all volunteer to lead the groups.”
The clubs are the brainchild of Paige, who wanted to give the students a connection with everyone at school. An impressive number of students, 246 out of 315, signed up for the clubs, which are from 3 to 4 p.m.
“It gives them something to do on Friday after school,” Paige said.
Students chose two clubs to join for the year. The list of clubs was presented like a Chinese restaurant menu; pick one from column 1 and one from column 2. But if students chose drama, it had to be their only club due to rehearsal schedules.
The 10 age-based clubs are sweet grass warriors, guitar, drama, spirit pep squad, art, god squad, cooking, puzzles/games, photography and weight lifting.
On Oct. 5, the art club was so large it was divided into age groups and an additional classroom was used. The sixth to eighth grade students created designs for cool sneakers, third to fifth graders made sculptures based on those created by pop artist Claes Oldenburg and kindergarten to second graders created colorful pop art. All the art classes had an art history foundation so in addition to being creative, the students learned something new.
The spirit pep squad, for second-graders to sixth-graders, worked on a routine they would perform at an upcoming volleyball pep rally. The girls cheered in unison and used the bright orange pompoms vigorously. Most of the girls said they always wanted to be cheerleaders and celebrate their school’s teams.
In the drama club, teacher Renea Finney handed out scripts for the play “Halloween Surprise” by Robin Blasberg. Each student had a speaking part and they ran through the lines. The play will be performed on Halloween at school. The drama club will perform another play at the school’s winter festival.
Teacher Andy Brewer brought his own acoustic guitar for the middle school guitar club, but the sole participant this day brought his own electric guitar and amp and was ready to learn how to shred.
“I want to learn more things on the guitar,” Josiah Johns said. “I like rock and metal, but I really want to create my own music.”
The sweet grass warriors, open to all students, is a social group that focuses on teaching kindness, respect and other positive behaviors. Group activities encourage students to work together toward a common goal.
The warriors read the book “Mixed: A Colorful Story” by Arree Chung, which is about acceptance and embracing differences, and took the lesson to heart. A banner with a line drawing of a town was decorated by the students to include all color occupants. Finger paint was the medium, but inclusion was the lesson.
“This is “Sweetgrassvile”, said teacher Tawna Little. “The students put the different color dots all over the town to show how everyone can live together.”
Paige is very pleased with the program.
“This has been the best year,” Paige said. “This is why I’m still teaching after 40 years.”