By Ashley Greenberg, Staff Reporter
Robotics Club, Video Game Club and Ski and Snowboard Club are only some of the extracurricular activities in place at Conestoga. Such clubs are musically, athletically or academically oriented, but one student by the name of Asher Goldfinger, now a freshman at Columbia, had the idea of a new club that’s focus was not music nor sports. Instead, his club was founded from the mere yearning to help people less fortunate than himself and his community.
Goldfinger had a connection to the city of Philadelphia and knew that kids there needed help. He wanted to take the talents of students from Conestoga and expose other communities to these talents in efforts to benefit people in need. Including club president Mark Dong, Goldfinger gathered his friends and other students from all grades to create the club known as Student2Student in the winter of 2014.
“There’s so many options for students at Conestoga and there’s so much interest in service. Part of the idea [of creating this club] was to try to channel some of that goodwill and that service-oriented mindset towards people who don’t have the kind of options that we have,” Student2Student’s teacher sponsor Richard Short said.
Student2Student is a club at Conestoga that reaches out to other communities and tutors students in Philadelphia and its surrounding cities. The club tutors students at the elementary and high school levels. Last year, Student2Student members tutored at the Russell Byers Charter School along with Zhang Sah, a martial arts complex, both of which are based in Philadelphia. After a year of tutoring, the club has expanded to four locations as supposed to two the previous year. Furthermore, the club’s meetings are not like usual club meeting in a classroom after school. They are more or less tutoring sessions for the kids in Philadelphia.
A typical day of tutoring starts after the bell rings to end the school day and about ten to twelve members of the club make their way to the lobby. With four dollars in their wallets for the train ticket, they leave Conestoga around 2:40 p.m. to catch the 303 train from Daylesford Station to go to Jefferson or Suburban Station in Philadelphia. They arrive in the city around 3:30 p.m. and walk to the location at which they are tutoring that day. From 4 to 5 p.m., members of Student2Student sit down one-on-one with another student for an hour-long tutoring session. Each student is assigned an individual tutor and studies through a series of 27 workbooks composed of different topics. During the session, the kids are asked to read and write sentences, pronounce words and combinations and other activities. At the end of each lesson, the proctor tests the kids individually, and they are able to proceed to the next workbook if they pass. Once the tutors finish up, they usually get dinner at the places around Suburban Station while they bond with each other after a long day of tutoring.
Goldfinger requested an expansion, as he is still an active part of the club, and Dong and the other co-presidents followed his request. The club stopped tutoring at Russell Byers Charter School but still tutors at Zhang Sah, along with three new locations. Dong is leading the high school program while the co-president leads the elementary and middle school programs of Coatesville Kids For College. The high school program focuses on PSAT preparation while the middle and elementary programs focus on basic math, reading and writing. Community service is also intertwined through the tutoring schedule of Coatesville Kids For College. Freire and Mastery Charter schools’ programs are basic tutoring, one-on-one and mentoring. This year, the club strives to create an online tutoring site to further expand their reach through the community. In addition, the club is trying to connect the club with The National Honors Society (NHS), striving for club and student growth in this upcoming year.
“I have huge hopes for this year and just being able to see kids, especially in Coatesville, where college isn’t even in the back of their minds [is a great experience]. I think it’s really important if we can bring that up to them, and they can realize that, ‘Hey, you know, school’s important and going on in life education as a whole is important.’ Just being able to put that mindset in them [would bring us closer to our goal],” Dong said.
Before Goldfinger left for college, he assigned four go-to people to serve as the club’s main representatives, including Dong. This core group plans to tackle anything that comes up in the way of the club.
“Being able to have this cohesive, small group of people, where we all know what to do and have each other’s backs, is really important for this year,” Dong said.
The club serves a great purpose and benefits all of the people involved, including tutors and students. Student2Student serves a momentous role in the community by reaching out and helping those in need by increasing their intelligence so they can lead a better life. With the club’s recent expansion, the organization will serve as a stronger influence towards the community.
“I just think it’s really heartening to see people that don’t need to do something like this choose to do something like this. I think that that’s really inspiring, for me as a teacher, to see people willing to devote their time to helping others. It’s a great thing, and I’m glad to be a part of it,” Short said.
Ashley Greenberg can be reached at email@example.com.