OCS students holding vegetables in a garden for gardening club

For many parents, the end of the school day can be a big cause for concern. Parents who need to work late often worry about where their kids will go to be safe and supervised after school.

Many after-school programs and childcare can be costly, and countless families lack the resources to pay for them.

Thankfully, parents of students at The O’Farrell Charter School can put their minds at ease. San Diego’s leading TK-12 AVID Schoolwide Site of Distinction keeps their students safe and productive after school by giving them a fun, enriching environment to stay in until 6 p.m. every school day.

There are two OCS after-school programs that are offered free of charge to all students in grades K-12. Students in grades K-8 participate in the Extended Day program, while students in grades 9-12 are part of the DIVE program. Both programs are made possible through two generous grants from the State of California.

“The biggest benefit of these programs is the relationship students develop with their activity leaders,” said Dr. Anne Mathews, OCS elementary school principal. “These lasting, caring connections stay with students throughout their years at OCS and provide an extra layer of support when they need it.”

Extended Day Helps Young Students Stay Safely Connected

Both OCS after-school programs are far more than just a supervised place for kids to stay after school. They allow students to get academic assistance and tutoring, eat a nutritious meal, connect with other students and activity leaders, and of course, have fun.

The K-8 students who participate in Extended Day, which is in its eighth year, sign in right after school and eat their supper. After a group check-in with their activity leaders, students complete their homework before moving onto another activity until it’s time to go home.

“At Extended Day, we offer activities such as cooking classes, playing games, and clubs like science, anime/Yu-Gi-Oh!, gardening, arts and crafts, and sports,” said Alexa Reyes, Extended Day program coordinator.

Students prepare food, cook it and eat it together for OCS cooking club

“Cooking class resonates with our K-5 students the most,” she said. “They learned that eating healthy can be delicious. They also now know how to cook dishes from different cultures and the history behind the dishes as well.”

For students in grades six through eight in Extended Day, Science Link is a big favorite. The program lets students conduct different experiments once a week. It also provides two outreach presentations and one field trip per school year.

In Reyes’ opinion, the biggest benefit of the Extended Day Program for students is the opportunity to try something new that they otherwise may not.

“Things like trying a meal from a different culture, learning a new language, or dissecting a fish expand new horizons,” she said. “Without the program, many of our students may not have access to these activities.”
DIVE-ing into the future, one afternoon at a time

At the high school level, DIVE gives students in grades 9-12 just as many opportunities for personal growth and exploration of interests.

“DIVE specializes in reaching out to and supporting students that may not fall into the typical clubs and sports,” said Brian Rainey, OCS high school principal who has been at OCS for 16 years.

In addition to DIVE being a safe place for high schoolers to hang out, study and socialize, it gives them an exhaustive list of ways to engage in activities centered around their interests.

“DIVE has clubs like Animation, Drama, Multicultural and E-Sports,” said Rainey. “Drama club is our biggest. It is a very inclusive club with a place for everyone to act, build sets, learn how to run sound and lights – whatever they like.”

DIVE also offers tutoring in every subject, and engaging field trips to locations for rock climbing, mountain biking, snowboarding, camping and surfing. As DIVE enters its sixth year at OCS, Rainey can say that the most popular activities with students are the snowboarding and surfing trips.

“Most of our students have never snowboarded, and some have never even seen snow in person,” he said. And although OCS is located less than 10 miles from the beach, many OCS students have never been – which makes surfing a very exciting draw for them as well.

“DIVE is an essential part of our high school program,” said Rainey. “It plugs students into school who might not be engaged otherwise. It helps students academically and socially. I don’t know what we’d do without it.”

[box title=”Learn More”]For more information on the Extended Day and DIVE after school programs, please visit ofarrellschool.org. For more information on funding provided to San Diego schools for programs such as these, visit the San Diego County Office of Education’s website: ASES programs or ASSETS programs.[/box]

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