By Ricky Clark, North Rockford Middle School Activities Coordinator
Middle school years can be difficult. Growth spirts, changing friend groups, and a variety of other changes cause the middle school years to bring new challenges to adolescents. These challenges can cause insecurities and self-doubt to be high, but these years are especially important for students to overcome doubts and to get involved in their school.
Research shows participating in structured extracurricular activities can as much as double an adolescent’s self-esteem (Butler and Hagewen, 2010). The research also shows that students that feel stronger connections to their schools have better attendance and grades. The research offers many reasons for the boost, including increased peer interaction, adult mentorship, and added life experiences.
What extracurricular activities does Rockford offer to help students during these times? Many know about the athletics offered by Rockford middle schools, but the middle schools offer a variety of other activities, groups, and clubs that allow students to get involved in their school.
Breakfast book clubs, Student Council, National Junior Honor Society, Peer 2 Peer, intramurals, band, choir, orchestra, and RAM Buddies highlight some of the extracurricular offerings. An after-school program runs twice during the school year for 6-week periods and offers opportunities ranging from computer coding to bowling. With grants from the Rockford Education Foundation, the middle schools will be offering a ‘Makers Space’ after school group using robots, 3D printers, and more.
In the 2017-2018 school year, Rockford middle schools boasted 72% of their students participating in extracurricular activities, which is nearly 10% higher than the state average of 62%.
Reach out to the middle school Student Activities Coordinators if you are searching for some offerings available to your middle schooler, or if you have any ideas, or if you need more information.