Fort Dodge Community School District

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Learning After School - from The Messenger

September 15, 2018

Keysha Tate, 7, a second-grade student at Butler Elementary School, took a few minutes to settle down with her book Friday afternoon while attending the daily Dodger Academy after school program.

There were after all, a couple of friends to talk to who were reading the same book and discussing the plot is an important aspect of that.

Tate enjoys her afternoons there.

student sharing learning from book with other students

“I like seeing my friends, I like reading these books and I like gym.” she said.

Ashley Canto, Dodger Academy director, said the goal of the program is to give students an opportunity to get help with their academic progress and to work on social skills at the same time.

The program, which has 75 students enrolled, is open to students in all of the Fort Dodge Community School District’s elementary schools.

It is held at Butler Elementary School. Students from other schools arrive by bus.

The first activity is getting to run around in the gym and literally, climb on the wall.

“I just let them run,” Canto said. “Get it all out. Then we do math and reading after that.”

If an individual student has homework, they can do it while in the academy. If not, there are plenty of books and other learning activities for them.

high school student helping elementary student set up stationary bike to read on

Canto has some help with those 75 students. About six high school helpers are on hand and several helpers from fifth grade at the Middle School.

Noah Brown, 16, a junior at Fort Dodge Senior High, is among those.

Friday found him busy helping the younger students get signed in, talking with them about the books they were reading and serving as a mentor.

Brown, who has several younger siblings at home, enjoys their company, too.

“I just wanted to work with the kids.” he said.

He also gets to answer a lot of questions.

“They ask me quite a bit.” he said.

high school student helping elementary students sign in as they arrive

On Fridays, the students get to take a turn reading as they ride a stationary exercise bike.

Student helper McKaelyn Anderson, 16, a junior, was helping Emma Potter, 7, a second-grade student at Butler, get set up to ride and read.

“I’m trying to figure it out.” Potter said.

Potter said that she’s made several new friends at the Dodger Academy and has enjoyed meeting students from other schools.

For Anderson, it’s been a good experience, too.

“I love it,” she said. “I’m making connections and friendships that will last a lifetime.”

In addition to reading, Tate is also quite fond of the afternoon’s snack time.

“Just in case we’re hungry,” she said. “But we can only have one.”

She has future aspirations that might be hard to combine.

“I’m going to be a cop and a gymnast.” she said.

She also really, really, enjoys her reading time.

“I actually sneaked one of the books outside so I can read.” she said.

No, she’s not supposed to do that. Yes, the teacher cut her a break.

“She let me have the book outside.” she said.

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