Palm Avenue Middle School hosted an "Evening with the Panthers" to showcase the innovative after-school programs they offer students.
"This is our first year. I think it's a great new tradition. It's wonderful to see so many students and their families here on campus," academic coach Isabel Juarez said.
Some of the programs and activities offered include technology, cooking, nutrition, Bible study, gaming, physical education, music and AVID, which supports students by helping them to build their skills for college life.
Assistant principal Sandra Bailey said, "I'm excited about tonight. We have a lot of new things we are providing our students."
"We just wanted to invite the community and build relationships with students and parents. If we partner together, the students get the best of both worlds."
The director of special projects for the Wasco Union Elementary School District, Danny Arellano, observed, "It's nice to see all of the cool things the students are doing like robotics, color guard and ukulele, among other good activities for kids on this campus."
"The purpose was to draw in parents and give them information on some of the extra curriculum that students are able to participate in."
Alberto Duran is a physical science teacher that oversees the robotics club.
"They build robots and learn to code. They develop problem-solving skills by trying different things to gain a competitive edge against other teams across the country. The idea is to get students interested in robotics at an early age, especially for girls."
Josiah Lopez, part of the robotics club, said, "I think it's pretty fun."
Aiden Alvarez, also of the robotics club, said, "I have experienced making new friends and having an enjoyable time here. Most of all, in this club, you can be wrong but still come out successful. I am really excited my family is here."
Andrea Miranda participates in color guard. She said, "I'm glad I joined. I feel more open-minded and feel I can trust my team. I'm making memories and know I have a team I can count on whenever I need help."
Yarixa Reyes said, "I think that being in color guard has improved my self-esteem. It is somewhere you can be who you are and don't have to be worried about being real."
Jonuel Diaz is part of the P.E. club. "I play football and baseball and the club is improving my strength so I can do better on the field."
P.E. club advisor Casey Tavares said that studies show that sports help academics.
"We try to get them active so they can burn their energy and release those endorphins that help them with their learning. This is great preparation for high school sports and weight training. Kids are taught the basic understanding of physiology, anatomy and kinesiology."
Parent Virginia Avila said the event went really well and was very informative.
"My son is in STEM and the gaming club. It has helped him in math, and he can work numbers better, and he's more confident," Avila said.
She continued, "I got him information on the impact club, something he would not have thought about. It's religious-based. They teach the bible and how to handle stress and image issues that kids experience nowadays."
Student Jeremiah Gutierrez started the cooking club.
"I love cooking, and I thought cooking at school would be fun. I want to be a chef. This is preparing me for the career, mostly by teaching more recipes and cooking with others. My favorite dishes are baked potatoes, my famous deep-fried Oreos and English muffin pizza."
Principal Zach Ellis shared that the goal was to bring the community in to learn about the after-school programs that are designed to empower students.
"We keep the school open until 6 pm, so students are in a safe environment."
He added that the best part of the event was engaging with families in a less formal setting and enjoying their company.