School may let out at 3:05, but that is hardly the end of the school day for many Southwest students. More than a third of students at Southwest participate in 12 different extracurricular activities. It is an essential part of both the mission of both Southwest and D124 to provide opportunities for students to not only apply the things they are learning daily in their classrooms but also to extend and offer new opportunities to try new things. Southwest not only taps into the creativity and passion of its teacher to create these opportunities but also pairs with the nearby community and educational organizations.
Mrs. Foley, the technology teacher at Southwest, oversees the afterschool computer club. The club is an excellent opportunity for the students to take what they are learning in school push it even further as well as gaining experience with new apps and programs. “It is fun helping the students to learn new things,” explains Mrs. Foley. “They are helping each other learn to code. I like to expose students to things we don’t always get to in class.”
Learning new things is just one example of the power of these extracurriculars. Taking their learning and applying it to solve challenging and unique problems is another advantage. Mrs. Cihocki heads up the Southwest Rube Goldberg Team. This team tackles a unique engineering challenge each year using creativity and content knowledge. “The Rube Goldberg contest provided an opportunity for students to apply their knowledge of simple machines and concepts of energy to create and engineer a chain reaction machine to complete a task such as pour a bowl of cereal.” Mrs. Cihocki also notes the life skills built from being a part of the Goldberg team. “It is important for students to develop problem-solving skills, working collaboratively as a team, and develop their interest in engineering. Students learned to not give up after many failed attempts, and in the end, they found success!”
For Mrs. Malone, it’s all about the books. It’s also one of the most popular clubs at Southwest. Her “Books and Beyond” club gives students an opportunity to immerse themselves in quality literature with no strings attached. “I wanted to sponsor a book club to share my love of reading and books with the students and to instill a love of reading in them,” says Mrs. Malone. “There's no testing, no pressure, just enjoying literature together.” Students read a common book and complete extension activities related to the book. Mrs. Malone also loves that it gives her the opportunity to reconnect with former students and to get to know other students. As a Southwest favorite, it’s no wonder why so many students signed up to participate!
Academic skills aren’t the only thing that is built at Southwest After School Clubs. The “Southwest Sprinters” just wrapped up their fall season. Sponsors Mrs. O’Connor and Mrs. Cushing are glad they created the running club for female students at Southwest. “We decided to start a girls’ running club to give them a chance to build their self-esteem in a safe environment. The goal was for the girls to feel stronger physically, mentally, and emotionally. We had a great first season of Southwest Sprinters and hope to continue the group in the Spring!”
For students who are not able to stay after school, there are also activities that take place during lunch and recess. Many 3rd - 5th graders participate in Student Council, the iLead team and are part of the Pawprint Staff. The Pawprint is our Southwest Newspaper. Mrs. Babiarz sponsors the club with Miss Prudden. Building writers is one of the reasons Mrs. Babiarz works with the club. “I love to write,” says Mrs. Babiarz. "In fact, I was part of my school newspaper in elementary school. I enjoy helping students grow as writers as they continue to develop a passion for writing." The Pawprint Newspaper helps students learn a variety of ways to write as well as learning about hitting deadlines and being a part of a team working towards a common goal.
Don’t forget about the Arts! Mrs. Eberhardt and Mr. Dryer keep music on our students’ minds. Fresh of an amazing Halloween show, Mrs. Eberhardt reflected on the role of having a Choir at Southwest. “There has been a long tradition of Chorus at Southwest School. Fourth and fifth-grade students have the opportunity to join the chorus and show off their talents,” explains Mrs. Eberhardt. Stage fright was no issue for the Chorus as they performed a Halloween musical titled “Spooky Night.”
In addition to the clubs mentioned above, Southwest students attend Chess Club and Let’s Build it Club. Southwest has also partnered with Erin Stevensen and her program, The Do Good Movement, to practice yoga and spreading kindness. We’ve also joined with the Woori Taekwondo Academy in Evergreen Park. The Woori Kids program serves as an introduction to Taekwondo while building the concepts of respect, focus, confidence, and goal setting. Over 35 students took part in the first session of the Woori Kids program!
Southwest wants to offer tremendous thanks to the incredibly dedicated staff and community that works tirelessly to offer these amazing opportunities for the students. Southwest will continue to work to provide a variety of clubs and activities that match our students' interests.