Students at Las Vegas’ Valley High School will soon be offered additional programming before and after school to help those who may have fallen behind in credits needed or are looking for opportunities for engagement. The help will be provided by the 4-H Youth Development Program, thanks to a $120,000 grant from the 21st Century Community Learning Center Program from the Nevada Department of Education.
“Most of these grants are awarded to elementary schools and usually go directly to schools, not community-based organizations.” Nora Luna, Urban 4-H Youth Development Program manager with University of Nevada, Reno Extension, said. “By obtaining a grant from the Nevada Department of Education to implement a 21st Century Program at Valley High School, we have direct access to a population that will benefit from all that 4-H does.”
Based on data and input provided by the school, the school has an issue with students not having enough credits for their grade level. However, data also shows that students generally have favorable feelings about being on campus, where they routinely stay after school and form unofficial groups. The funding from this grant will provide the infrastructure to formalize these groups and create impactful programs before and after school that meet the needs of the student body.
Beginning in January 2022, Extension will base a 4-H site coordinator, Maria Chairez, at the high school. Chairez will develop and execute programming aimed at helping students catch up and enhancing educational outcomes in general, such as improving students’ grades and attendance, and reducing behavior and discipline issues at the school. By being based on campus, Chairez will get to know students first-hand and can adjust programming as needed.
“I am excited to build a new program that taps into the interest, needs and talents of youth at Valley High School, while also addressing their needs to stay on track for high school graduation and beyond,” Chairez said. “Many fell behind or just need extra support and the 21st Century after-school program will give youth new opportunities for learning and growing.”
In her work, Chairez will be piloting the “4-H MAGIC Program.” The program, which stands for Mastery, Generosity, Independence and Community, uses six-week sessions that are designed to leverage student engagement, target academic intervention, and provide a diverse offering of enrichment opportunities to develop a community of out-of-school-time learners. To supplement the grant, Extension has committed an additional $10,000 per year to support the program, and will also provide a variety of additional high-quality enrichment programming staffed by Extension facilitators once a week.
“We are really excited to partner with Extension’s 4-H Program on the 21st Century Community Learning Program,” Philip Marsh, Valley High School assistant principal, said. “Our students are eager to get involved, and the 4-H activities will give them more opportunity to do that. Also, some students did fall behind, and this program will allow us to offer more credit retrieval opportunities.”
The specific programming offered will be developed based upon a needs assessment that Chairez will conduct, which will include feedback from students in the form of surveys, focus groups and interviews, as well as information and input provided by school administrators. In addition to the 15 hours per week of enrichment programming that 4-H will deliver, the grant provides funding for teachers to deliver before- and after-school academic programming to help students earn the credits they are short. Family involvement is another focus of the grant program. As such, certain activities will be included to ensure that parental involvement is offered.
The 4-H-21st Century partnership at Valley High School is meant to serve as pilot program.
“We believe that using the 4-H MAGIC model at Valley High School will prove successful in achieving the program’s goals. We hope that then this experience can serve as the blueprint, and be replicated at other high schools with similar needs across the state,” Luna said.