The Old and New at McMurray Middle School RISE

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by Ellen Larson, RISE Site Coordinator

Our RISE students at McMurray Middle School saw January bring students’ favorite enhancements from last semester and also new enhancements. Enhancement follows our academic period and involves members from the community or RISE staff teaching our students new skills, from photography to sports. As a site coordinator, I think what makes our program so great is that students have a genuinely good time and see the RISE afterschool program as a positive part of their day. One day, as I drove home some of our Iraqi students, they explained to me, in broken English, what school was like in Iraq: “There no good. Here, good,” the student said. Many of our students have already had traumatic life stories, and I consider RISE successful because students enjoy coming to RISE.

When our students play soccer, they are so happy. We experienced a brief hiatus in our soccer program, and so students were so excited to start playing again in January. In our daily reflection for the day, one of our new students on his first day in the program said he had a lot of fun playing soccer and learned about the other people in RISE. Soccer also teaches our students skills, like how to react in a conflict. Lwel Day said when she saved the ball from two arguing boys, she learned that it is best to keep an eye on things instead of fighting.

In January we had a new enhancement: Martial Arts. Students had been asking to have Martial Arts for a while, and so they were happy to have it! As a site coordinator, it is rewarding to see students make RISE their own program and find outlets to express themselves.

Before RISE started up again in January, a select few of our students were rewarded for good behavior in RISE through a “Student of the Month” lunch at Dave & Busters at Opry Mills. Students who had the most stars for each month of the Fall Semester were selected for the special lunch. Each day in RISE, students can receive a star for displaying exceptional behavior that whole day. Whoever receives the most stars for the month is “Student of the Month.” Eh Ku Thoo, Ma Na Eh, Lwel Day, and Za Ea received the honor and had lunch with the site coordinators, Miss Ellen and Miss Wanqing, and RISE Director, Miss Tiffany, and played games in Dave & Buster’s arcade. Eh Ku Thoo said he had so much fun and has already asked RISE staff how many stars he needs to be student of the month again.


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