Portage Township Schools

Program 240 nurtures students' sense of community

2013-08-25T00:00:00Z Program 240 nurtures students' sense of communityJennifer Sass, associate principal at Portage High School nwitimes.com

Thanks to the backing of the Portage Township Schools board, middle and high school students were given an opportunity to get up and get moving this summer.

Program 240 was offered for all students in the district at no cost. The high school program was a success. Students were bused to the high school two days a week, provided tons of activities and served a brunch. All we asked was that the students be respectful and willing to try new things. Program 240 was an idea that was discussed at our district level Developmental Asset team meetings and grew from there. We were given the go ahead to get a plan and put it in action, so we ran with it.

According to the Search Institute, "developmental relationships help young people attain the psychological and social skills that are essential for success in education and in life. Young people can form these relationships with their parents and family members, with their friends and peers, with staff members in their schools and programs, and with caring adults in their neighborhoods and communities."

We worked on developing assets in our students through Program 240 by focusing on relationships with peers, teachers, staff members and community.

The Portage High students were involved in a wide variety of activities through Program 240. Students selected cooking, swimming and art at the top of their favorites. Students also were given the opportunity to play tennis, hang out in the Media Center for reading and computer activities, a scavenger hunt around the school and play board games. Students also participated in bowling and a visit to the Valparaiso University Art Museum.

Also, we teamed up with the South Haven Boys & Girls Club throughout the summer to interact with the kids who attend the club. Fifty-two percent of the students who attended Program 240 responded that they would possibly volunteer at the club this school year. This small step in the program may have opened some big doors for the high school students and the kids attending the club. Building relationships in the community are huge in creating a strong, vital community.

Students who attended Program 240 took a field trip to Purdue North Central to get them thinking about choices after high school. Sixty-seven percent of the students said this field trip helped them start thinking about a career after high school. Seventy-six percent stated this trip helped them understand that college is an option after high school, and 70 percent said it gave them a lot of information about getting into college, courses and the overall college experience.

This one field trip cracked open a door for many students to start thinking about a career after high school and what type of school or training they will need to get where they want to be to live “the good life.”

Hats off to the district for providing another opportunity to help our students develop into happy, productive citizens in our community! Now it is your turn, as you drive down Central Avenue, check out the Portage Township Schools banners and try one of the suggestions on it to continue to create a positive community.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion.

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