After-School Teen Program Adds Fine Arts, Academic Goals

Tye Ward considered what it would take to pursue a career working with children or as a counselor.

“College for counseling, an internship … I would do that,” said the Kelloggsville High School sophomore.

Prompted by volunteer Crystal Reidzans, Tye talked about her future goals. Reidzans explained that doing well in school now will put the teenager on the right path to the career she wants.

Every Thursday after school, about 15 Kelloggsville High students get together to talk about issues that affect their lives. They meet one-on-one with mentors who help them stay on track at school. They also let their creative sides shine by learning to play the drums or guitar, perform skits or paint masterpieces.

The program, Anthem, is the newest after-school option offered at The DOCK, a Christian-based ministry located next to the high school. It stands for Discipling of Christ’s Kids.

Focusing on School

Volunteer Harrison Rice, a South Christian High School student, teaches Kelloggsville sophomore Tye Ward to play the guitar

Anthem adds a layer of structured programming to the 10-year-old ministry under new Executive Director Laurie Zuverink. Many Kelloggsville students have visited TheDOCK’s traditional drop-in program for recreational activities, Bible lessons, food and fun, for years.

“The kids, who are now older and still have connections here, wanted something more,” Zuverink said.

Students have committed to attend Anthem every week. Each student has given Zuverink and volunteers access to their grades online, to help mentors learn individual needs and aid in goal-setting. Prizes such as dinner at a restaurant serve as incentives for improved grades, and having an adult keep track of their schoolwork keeps them accountable.

It’s working for Tye, who said the sessions have motivated her “to actually get things done.”

“My grades improved,” she said. “It will help me get into a college and pursue what I want to do.”

Zuverink said many students lack at-home support concerning education. About 68 percent of Kelloggsville students qualify for free or reduced lunch, and many haven’t considered all the options available after high school.

“We are trying to create a culture where school is important, where to do well is considered honorable and respected,” Zuverink said. She noted that Anthem students range from college-bound to those needing to catch up on credits.

Anthem focuses on developing a goal-oriented focus on education, and providing students with the knowledge they need to apply for colleges and seek financial aid and scholarships. Zuverink is planning a college visit in the future.

The fine-arts component allows students to experience extracurricular creative opportunities that tap into their talents. They also take field trips.

Senior Marissa Minier practices playing the guitar

Goal-setting and Accountability

After arriving, students gather in groups to discuss self-image, healthy relationships and other topics affecting their lives.They then break into one-on-one meetings with mentors who help them set school goals, discuss grades and talk about their futures.

Senior Marcus Dumas has attended The DOCK since middle school. Marcus has a grade-point average that ranks fourth in his class. His goal to move up to first or second. He said The Dock has impacted his life over the years

“It definitely kept me out of trouble,” Marcus said. “It kept me close to God and kept me focused.”

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The DOCK

Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio

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