Ask any Sunset Park High School student where they will be when their last formal class ends, and they will likely tell you: still at school. The school-community partnership of Sunset Park High School and Center for Family Life provides a diverse range of daily afterschool activities implemented by professional social workers, artists and young adults from the community, in collaboration with the school’s teachers.
The daily afterschool program is not just about school work. It offers a rich menu of academic and arts enrichment, sports and recreation, community service, college readiness and career exploration activities. The partnership also provides targeted academic enrichment, such as AP Computer Science, that provides open access to challenging courses, all while maintaining the heterogeneous, mixed-ability cohort model of programming during the day.
The SPHS afterschool program also gives students opportunities for leadership and for the exploration of talents and skills. Program development emphasizes youth voice and choice. Student leaders actively participate in weekly leadership training sessions, where students critique activities, discuss successes and challenges, plan their next sessions, and present their plans for peer review.
The personalization that characterizes the school’s Small Learning Community instructional model is also a key element in its afterschool design. Each participant meets with an Advisor to develop an individualized schedule for extended day activities. The program’s carefully composed schedule pays close attention to the sequence of activities – for example, offering tutoring before popular clubs – to reduce conflicts and balance the need for in-depth academic supports with other areas of youth interest.
Located in an under-resourced neighborhood in Brooklyn, Sunset Park High School, a community school, keeps its students involved and learning till the sun goes down.