Originally published in The Vacaville Reporter on January 16, 2015 By Kimberly Fu.
Anna Eaton, Executive Director of the Vacaville Boys and Girls Club is planning for a January 30 opening for the clubs new site at Vaca Pena Middle School. Joel Rosenbaum — The Reporter
The Vacaville Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club is coming to a middle school near you.
First up is Vaca Pena, at 200 Keith Way, with a grand unveiling of the new digs on Jan. 30. If all goes well, another branch could open across town at Willis Jepson Middle School.
“It’s exciting for us,” said Anna Eaton, the club’s executive director. “We want to be where we are needed.”
Principal Jeff Crane echoed the enthusiasm.
“I think it’s great for kids and families to have an option to have quality things to do after school that are positive and constructive and it’s not just day care,” Crane said. “They are serving students academically, they are providing leadership … They are going above and beyond. It’s a good idea and we just want to go ahead and make it happen.”
“The Club” has been in the works since last summer, when club officials were strategizing about growth. Officials with the Vacaville Unified School District were very receptive, Eaton said, and the project came about fairly quickly.
Already in the last year the Club expanded to the Acacia neighborhood and later opened a teen center in the Rocky Hill neighborhood. The goal is to reach as many youths as possible, Eaton has said, and middle schoolers are in need. So the move to Vaca Pena could be described as serendipitous.
Nationally, she pointed out, it’s been found that more students fail their freshman year than any other grade. Advancement rates from ninth to tenth grade are significantly lower than those between all other grades, she continued.
As for high school dropouts, most fail at least 25 percent of their freshman courses while just eight percent of graduates experienced the same difficulty, she said.
Which is why the Boys & Girls Clubs of America is pushing for a stronger focus on middle school students, she said, and has begun branching out to school campuses.
The drop off in attendance in that age group has been felt locally, she said, and there’s no one answer why. But statistics show that there’s a problem regarding transitioning, she said, that must be addressed.
“One of our focuses is to implement a support system to prepare middle schoolers for high school,” Eaton advised.
On the 30th, all eyes will be on Vaca Pena’s Portable 42. That’s where staffers from the main club branch, and partners with the Solano County Educational Consortium will be, taking newcomers through the ropes and presenting the club’s offerings.
There will be the usual academics, homework help and tutoring, character and leadership development, nutrition, arts and recreation and other offerings as well as a focus on higher education, as well as a college tour at the end of the school year.
“We’ll have to be flexible as we go along,” she said. “We’ve been great in finding staff that connect with the children.”
The Club will take as many kids as possible and will be open from after school to 6 p.m. weekdays. Cost is $60 per year and aid is available.
For more information, go online to www.vnbgc.com.