What do the Horned Toad Derby, Latin Dancing and the Coalinga Chamber of Commerce have in common? All of them engage the students of Coalinga High School’s After School Program!

The Coalinga High School After School Program serves students from the communities of Coalinga and Huron on the west side of the Central Valley. As both a rural and Title I school, the Coalinga High School After School Program is poised to provide youth with engaging enrichment activities to which they might not otherwise have access.

“Our program is student-driven so we strive to provide classes that will be meaningful to them,” explains Sharon Arce, Coordinator of the Coalinga High After School Program. “[We offer] classes such as cooking, improv, guitar and drama to provide students with real world experiences that allow them to master lifelong skills.”

One bright spot of the Coalinga High School After School Program is its service to the community exemplifying the Collaborative Partnerships Quality Standard for Expanded Learning outlined by the California Department of Education. For the past several years the leadership team has partnered with the Coalinga Chamber of Commerce. Students provide support for the Chamber’s Annual Dinner, present at monthly luncheons, and help with some of the big community events, such as the Horned Toad Derby. This partnership is quite the success as evidenced by the increase in youth involvement and service to the Chamber each year.

The Coalinga High School After School Program is a great example of a successful afterschool program that recognizes the importance of strong community connections, and then actively pursues them. Research demonstrates that community partnerships forged through afterschool offer students a way to achieve academically, socially, emotionally, vocationally, civically, and physically.1

“Coalinga High School has consistently been a leader in providing quality programming,” explains Lori Carr, Consultant, Fresno County Superintendent of Schools. “They were the first high school program to earn all five digital badges representing successful implementation of the Learning in Afterschool and Summer Principles. The instructors are passionate about providing meaningful opportunities for their youth. This close-knit community exemplifies youth development which is evident each year as the afterschool leadership team works closely with their Chamber of Commerce to identify community need and seek new opportunities to serve.”

Last April the Fresno County Superintendent of School Fresno County Office of Education (FRESH) After School Program presented the inaugural After School Celebration and Award Show. The event recognized and honored excellence within the local afterschool field. Coalinga High School After School Program was the proud recipient of the “Best High School Program” award.

Coalinga High School students really enjoy being a part of their afterschool program, too. One student, Jonathan, stated that he became interested in the afterschool program when he saw there was a video game room. He enjoys playing video games and this gives him an opportunity to meet others who also play. One thing Jonathan really likes is that students have been able to improve the video game room and make it their own. They have suggested equipment, games and ideas for tournaments. He also enjoys the fact that students who come want to be there so negative behaviors are not a problem, like they can be during the regular school day.

For more information about the Coalinga High School After School Program, please contact Sharon Arce at sarce@chusd.org.



1Kahne, J. et al. (2001). Assessing after-school programs as contexts for youth development. Youth and Society, 32, 421-446.