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Leaning in closer to hear the third-grader to help the youngster ask a question, a Wapakoneta High School sophomore says he takes this role seriously.
Not so seriously that he can’t have fun with the students he is helping, though, as Morgan Howard remembers what it was like when he was the younger student receiving the help.
“I went through the program and it was fun,” Howard said. “Learning from another kid was a lot easier. I could connect with them.”
So he returned the favor. He now tutors students through Cridersville Elementary School’s Homework Assistance Night.
Every Wednesday Wapakoneta High School students arrive at Cridersville Elementary School to work with 15 third- and fourth-grade students for an hour after school. Many of the high school students who volunteered for the program went to Cridersville themselves and realized the importance of giving back.
Some work with the same students every time developing a close bond, while others move amongst the students as needed.
Lyndsi Whitmore, a junior, tutored younger students before and knew she liked helping children, so she signed up. Almost every week she now finds herself helping the girls she is working with on math homework.
Lucas Lightle, a sophomore, thought it would be something good he could do.
“I like working with them,” Lightle said of the fourth-grade boys with whom he has worked every week since the program started. “We do everything from math and science to spelling and vocab words. I help them with whatever they need help on.”
Fourth-grader Jaden Kerr said Lightle makes doing the work fun and it is nice to have him there when he has a question or to check his work. It also is a big help on a day when there is no one to help him with his homework at home.
“It makes a difference for me,” said Jaden, who with Lucas’s help is able to complete all of his assignments before he leaves school each Wednesday afternoon.
Braylee Featheringham and Morgan Stombaugh, third-graders in the program, said not only does having the high schoolers there to help them make a difference, but being able to work with each other to complete assignments helps, too.
“It’s really hard on the nights we don’t have this,” Braylee said.
Morgan said it also is just so much more fun than doing homework alone.
Both girls said having an older student help them gets them to listen differently than if it were a parent or another adult talking to them.
They finish math and reading assignments, and practice spelling words, each Wednesday before they go home. Sometimes they even have extra time to work on multiplication facts, too.
With a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students at Cridersville Elementary School, the program is offered to students who may have been struggling with or not getting homework assignments completed, and were recommended for the extra help by their teachers, said Cridersville’s guidance counselor Jill Stubbs, who oversees the program each week in the school library.
The homework assistance program, which began Dec. 5, runs through April 10.
She said it also takes off some of the pressure at home and gets students the help they need.
Some of the elementary school’s staff members worked at McDonald’s one night to earn money to give the high school students a little compensation for their gas and time to help out the younger students.
“It is a great opportunity for these young students to work with high school students so they can build a positive relationship,” Stubbs said, sharing she believes it is important for these students to have that positive role model to look up to. “It is amazing how the younger students look forward to seeing and working with the high school students.”
When the younger students see the older students outside of the homework assistance nights, they feel important because the older students acknowledge them in public, Stubbs said.
She explained the high school students meanwhile are learning responsibility and how important it is for them to give back to the community.
“It is so important for young adults to realize how important community service is,” Stubbs said, “and that our community is a better place if we all work together.”