By Meagan Pruitt
Although the Tutoring Club actively aids young students on a weekly basis, they took on a special project for one month during the students’ club time to sponsor a journalism program for the Community Youth Program (CYP) students at St. John's Episcopal Church.
Since September, members of the Tutoring Club have been arriving at St. John's nearly every week. On the Third floor, there is an activity room that students across the Valley come to for help with their academics, get some food and support in general. Volunteers provide assistance until 5 p.m., which is when dinner is served. Shortly afterwards, the remaining students journey off into their clubs: art or journalism.
For five weeks Willis Hall students have helped CYP children develop their own newspaper, and these 15 children did so by working on 18 computers in the computer lab. This improved their typing skills, according to some of the children.
"We get to talk about other people's lives and how they feel and what they do," said Sadichchha Sharma, who is a 5th grader at Wasena Elementary School, and has been involved with CYP for two years. "We get to be creative."
When asked why she loves the CYP program, Sharma talked about the access to computers, and the benefits of some assistance with their homework. While they do get to play games and go on field trips, she also acknowledges that the program is educational.
Some of the tutors involved in the journalism club are Chase Overton ('17), Sulan Yan ('17) and Ocean Ding ('18). One of the deadlines for the children's newspaper required interviewing these students. In this process, tight-knit friendships were formed.
Overton, who has been coming to CYP since the start of the winter term, participates in both the journalism club and tutoring. During this time, he has grown particularly attached to a fifth grader named Jeremiah, who he describes as his little buddy.
"It gives you an edge to help people out," Overton said. "And it makes me feel smarter."
Depicted as fun, talented, funny and someone who likes to explore stuff, according to Jeremiah, Overton simply adds to the fun by exposing his buddy to new music and hip hop artists such as Chance the Rapper.
Another tutor, Yan, has made significant strides by being involved in the program. Having arrived from China to attend North Cross in the fall, she wanted to do something that would touch others beyond the high school walls. After listening to student announcements, she was able to achieve this through the Tutoring Club.
"I realized that tutoring is apart of American society," Yan said, "so I'm here.”
For five weeks, Yan has had a duel extra-curricular schedule between JV basketball practices and tutoring. However, for the last three weeks she helped with the journalism program at CYP.
In the process, she has had to overcome the challenges of teaching accented children as a newcomer herself. One memory that Yan recalled was teaching spelling. A Nepali girl, who Yan was studying with, inquired about the spelling of "geography." Unfortunately, Yan falsely answered the question. Even though it was an embarrassing moment for her, she described it as a really good memory.
What makes Yan's bold decision to tutor even more unique is her Chinese culture. Back in China, children are only tutored if they are in special need, according to Yan; people don't believe that they can or should tutor children, or anyone else for that matter.
One of the CYP adult leaders believes the journalism program to be strengthening the children academically and socially.
"I think it has helped them acquire more computer literary skills," LeAnn Frank said, "so it's helped them get on the computer. For some [it has] sharpened interviewing skills, and introduced them to people they haven't met before and learn more about them."