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Message in a Bottle
April 4, 2018

The after school program, also referred to as R.O.A.R. (Relationships, Opportunities, Adventures, and Readiness), kicked off Monday Sept. 16, encouraging all Bentonville students to sign up. Held in North 119, the old elibrary location, the program is meant to help make students more successful in their academics as well as providing them with basic essential needs and stronger bonds with their friends and teachers. 

Developed by Mrs. Heather Hook and Ms. Holly Howard, English teachers, the program will provide after school snacks, academic support, and fun activities to help develop personal relationships for those who attend.

“We wanted to create a place where kids look forward to going after school. We want to make sure students have the chance to be exposed and have access to what Bentonville has to offer,” Ms. Holly Howard, R.O.A.R. co-creator, said. 

During her first year as a teacher in Lanoka in Central Arkansas, Howard worked in a district that had a very low socioeconomic status. She worked with students that didn’t have anything and their basic needs weren’t being met.

“They were hungry or they didn’t get any sleep or they didn’t have an adult in their life. The program we ran at that school was successful in providing a safe place for students, providing food for students, providing relationships with teachers. People in Bentonville think that Bentonville students have everything they need but we still have students that don’t have those basic needs,” Howard said.

The program is divided into three parts: The food session, where students can eat snacks or small meals; the tutoring and homework session, where students can work independently or with certified teachers on their assignments; and the recreational session, where students can participate in fun, extracurricular activities.

“Kids who go home and do not eat, kids who are academically unsuccessful because there is no quiet safe place to do homework or they don’t have what they need to do homework, and kids who just need to be more involved, find a group of friends, have fun activities, see school not as this horrible place to be. It all just came together to become this program,” Hooks, the other co-creator of the program, said.

Many of the activities, both on and off campus, include going to a horseshoe pits, doing yoga or Zumba, going fly-fishing, and watching a football game or theatrical play, and many more. All of the P.E. equipment will be available to all the attending students during this session. Other activities that will later be integrated into the program would consist of riding bikes to the Bentonville square to get ice cream, attending field trips to crystal bridges, and visiting other places in the local area. If students have been attending their classes, staying out of trouble, and maintaining their grades, the program will reward those participating in the program with big field trips.

The program does not require any payment from those who attend. The school provides a budget for the program to use and donations are received from people who have invested into this program. However, students who are interested must fill out a form that any of their teachers can provide and then have the filled out copy submitted to Mrs. Howard in room 1606 or Mrs. Hooks in room 1302.

The idea for the program started last spring when the school received money from the state and teachers were asked for ideas on how to spend it on the students. Mrs. Hooks decided the after school program would address the achievement gap issue. The next day, Mrs. Hooks spoke with Mrs. Kimberly Burgess, ESL designee, as well as Ms. Howard and they started collaborating on ideas for the program.

The after school program is a way for students to keep themselves busy, while finding time to complete their work, engage with friends, and feel welcomed in a calm, safe atmosphere. Students can build relationships with teachers on a more casual, personal level as they will act as mentors and moral supporters. Teachers and students will be engaged in what all the program has to offer, allowing them to become more comfortable and secure with their teachers and to achieve the most enjoyment out of the program.

“Kids are going to come to those teachers who have more of a relationship with them, but I think also you have to know your kids and know what they need and how to help them, so they will want to come and spend extra time at school,” Hooks said.

The program accepts 40-50 members and will accommodate for each of the attendants. Over time Mrs. Howard and Mrs. Hooks, the founders of this program, hope to expand the amount of participants that will attend. Students who don’t have methods of getting to school will be provided bus transportation.

“We are hoping that we see some of our students who may have struggled academically in the past attend this program and focus more on school so that we see an improvement in grades, attendance, and behavior from all the students involved in the program,” Howard said. “We also hope that we are reaching out to those students who may not have a place, maybe they haven’t found a sport, an activity, and a group of friends that they can be a part of—we want this to be another opportunity that students can feel like they belong. And the most exciting part is to see a connection between teachers and students, since we are so fast paced and academically focused that we get to break down that wall and have a little fun.”

Want to help fund raise the R.O.A.R. after school Program? Donate to Mrs. Holly Howard and Mrs. Heather Hooks and show your support!


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