This month students, families, and staff from all of Green Dot’s middle schools in California eagerly gathered in the Mark Taper Auditorium at the Los Angeles Central Public Library for Green Dot’s first network spelling bee. Erick Hernandez, a sixth grader at Ánimo Florence-Firestone Charter Middle School, earned first place after spelling the word “voracious” correctly and Luis Garay, a seventh grader at Ánimo James B. Taylor Charter Middle School, earned second place after he spelled “liability.”
“Spelling bees are important because they’re a new experience that helps students improve their vocabulary,” said Hernandez. The team at Green Dot that supports expanded learning wanted to host a spelling bee as a fun and effective way to support literacy development in our middle schools. Spelling bees are about more than just memorization, they challenge students to learn the pronunciation, definition, and roots of complex words, which leads to a greater understanding of the English language.
“If there were no after school programs, I wouldn’t be able to do many of the things I enjoy like soccer, art, and this spelling bee. After school programs expand our learning while letting us have fun,” said Ke’Vaugn Harris, a sixth grader at Ánimo Mae Jemison Charter Middle School. Our expanded learning programs provide students with a space for additional support and academic enrichment at no cost to our families. Through our work with community partners, we have been able to build safe, hands-on, engaging, student-centered, and results-driven learning experiences beyond when the last bell rings.
With the spelling bee finished, the expanded learning team is gearing up for their last two events of the year: the High School Knowledge Bowl and the Second Annual Ánimo Cup soccer tournament. “We hope students gain an understanding that these expanded learning opportunities are not just limited to their campuses,” said Edison Palicos, Green Dot After School Programs Associate. “We host these network wide events because they allow students to meet, exchange ideas, and see that they are part of a larger Green Dot family.”