Bridging community and education

Dr. Berg welcomes students back to school during tour of the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club

By Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

TULALIP – “Our club!” the children exclaimed as they greeted Dr. Becky Berg, Superintendent of the Marysville School District. Dr. Berg’s visit to the club was part of a back to school kick off on Tuesday, August 19.

Marysville School District Superintendent Dr. Becky Berg receives a drum as thanks for her visit to the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club. Lois Henry shared a story as well.

Marysville School District Superintendent Dr. Becky Berg receives a drum as thanks for her visit to the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club. Lois Henry shared a story as well. Photo/ Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

“We have been working all summer to make sure our schools are ready for you all,” Dr. Berg said. “We are all very excited to see you back at school in two weeks.”

Dr. Berg’s tour of the club is part of an effort to create an afterschool community that encourages educational success. Statistics show that students who attend Boys and Girls Clubs perform better in all areas of learning.

“These numbers from the Arlington School District compare Boys and Girls Club kids and kids that don’t come to the club,” said Bill Tsoukalas, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County. “At fourth, fifth, and sixth grade, you see a constant trend across reading, math and science where club kids score much higher.”

Dr. Becky Berg looking at student data from the Arlington School District with Snohomish County Boys and Girls Clubs Executive Director, Bill Tsoukalas. The data shows that Boys and Girls Club kids consistently perform much higher that non-club kids.

Dr. Becky Berg looking at student data from the Arlington School District with Snohomish County Boys and Girls Clubs Executive Director, Bill Tsoukalas. The data shows that Boys and Girls Club kids consistently perform much higher that non-club kids. Photo/ Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

Excited by the data from Arlington, Dr. Berg intends to look at similar demographics for Tulalip students in Marysville schools to see if there is a similar trend. Tsoukalas and Tulalip Boys and Girls Club Director, Chuck Thacker, believe there is.

Thacker said, “We see so much improvement in our kids. We bring them into a different environment, providing support for the kids.”

“This is their club,” he continued, “you heard them say it. You will notice that the walls are not drawn on and marked up, trash is picked up. They take pride in their club, and that’s what makes it successful.”

That way of thinking was instilled in Boys and Girls Club kids more than seven years ago by Don “Penoke” Hatch, long time supporter for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County.

“Kids come here to have fun and to be in a safe place afterschool. But we also want them to learn while they’re here,” Tsoukalas added.

The tour moved into the computer lab as Dr. Berg was shown all of the resources available to children at the club. The newly-renovated lab is complete with brand new computers, two main monitors, and a smart-screen for interactive teaching.

“This is all state of the art. We want to be up and ready, fully functional for the open house in a few weeks,” Tsoukalas proudly explained. “We’ve invited both of our senators, Cantwell being a huge proponent of programs like ours.”

Hatch said, “I think the tribe ought to be proud of what they’ve got here, what they’re doing here for our kids.”

Dr. Berg was thanked for her visit to the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club, and was presented with a special gift, a traditional hand drum with original artwork by Heritage High School senior Ayrik Miranda, who is employed with the club through the summer.