Montevallo after-school club offers wide array of activities

One canoe ride, soccer game and tutoring class at a time, the Montevallo Middle Community Learning Center is seeking to create more well-rounded, knowledgeable and in-shape students.

The center, which is part of the statewide Fresh Air Family organization, is an after-school program aimed at helping students at Montevallo Middle School explore the outdoors, become engaged in sports and group activities and become leaders in the classroom.

“It really is a great program,” said Jenny Dorgan, who is in charge of the Montevallo Middle School program. “The kids’ grades improve, their health improves and they really seem to enjoy it.”

The group meets every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon after school, and often takes part in nature-related events. The group, which is partially student-run, also holds tutoring and study sessions, soccer games, karate classes and much more, Dorgan said.

On Oct. 30, the group partnered with the Cahaba River Society to hold a canoeing expedition down the Shoal Creek in Montevallo’s Orr Park. During the event, Cahaba River Society Education Director Gordon Black joined a few students as they got a water-level look at some of the creek’s wildlife.

“Today is a small crowd, probably because of all the Halloween events and the football game tonight,” Dorgan said, minutes after the group spotted a juvenile snake near the creek’s bank. “We only have two today, but we have had as many as 12 the last few times.”

Though the group was small, participants were eager to share their excitement after the more than one-hour creek expedition.

“I enjoy what we do,” said Billy, a Montevallo Middle School seventh-grade student whose last name was withheld at the request of the club. “I’ve never missed a single time out here.

“I love going out and playing soccer and going on all the field trips. Personally, I also enjoy building things and doing crafts,” Billy added. “The tutoring helps me get my homework done.”

Dorgan said she has enjoyed working with the students, and would like to see the event grow in the future.

“It’s been really great getting to know these kids,” Dorgan said. “And the kids seem to really love it, too. We let them know up front that the success of the program depends on them.

“I would love to see more and more kids start coming out with us after school,” Dorgan added. “We always have something going on.”

Membership and many of the club’s events are free. To get more information about the organization, visit Freshairfamily.org, or contact Executive Director Verna Gates at 540-6642.