Chávez HS proves afterschool programming still attractive to older kids

Chávez freshman Edwin Alas lifts weight after school.

Chávez freshman Edwin Alas lifts weight after school.

At 4 p.m. in the hallways of Chávez High School, chatter and laughter exceeds the typical end-of-school day buzz as a new community comes alive. Afterschool is on.

Youth who would normally hit the streets are weightlifting in the field house. A business venture takes shape as the afterschool smoothie shop showcases new recipes. Savvy girls with profit margins in mind construct homemade, designer valentine cards to satisfy schoolyard crushes. A running club is canvassing the community to organize a neighborhood fun run.

At a time when out-of-school time funding is being cut throughout the state and nation, this southeast Houston high school is finding funding for its afterschool ventures. The latest comes from a $550,000, homegrown initiative from the City of Houston City Council called City Connections. Chávez received $15,000 from the initiative organized and promoted by the Center for Afterschool and Expanded Learning for Kids (CASE for Kids), a division of the Harris County Department of Education.

“It’s a misnomer to think that high school students won’t become involved in afterschool,” said Lisa Thompson-Caruthers, director of CASE for Kids. “If afterschool activities are meaningful, teens will readily participate.”

“It keeps me out of a lot of trouble,” said Chávez HS senior Jair Woods, between barbell crunches. “Plus, I’m not sitting home being lazy like a normal teenager. I’m doing something productive with my life.”

CASE for Kids, formerly the Cooperative for After-School Enrichment, was launched by Harris County Department of Education in 1999.