Clubs and sports bring relief to FLC

FLC Journalism Class

Correction: A previous version of the graphic in this story listed Wrestling and Lacrosse. FLC does not offer these sports.

Franklin Learning Center’s dismissal was disrupted by gunfire shortly after 3 PM on September 15, 2021. An altercation led to gun shots on the northeast corner of the school at 616 N. 15th St. A lockdown was then issued by school administration and students and staff still in the building sheltered in place in the auditorium while police arrived and investigated.

This is not the first or last school shooting of the 2021-2022 school year. Students at FLC and throughout the city have experienced shooting-related trauma their whole lives. Seeking to address this trauma, Billy Penn and CeaseFirePA held a panel discussion in September about the ways that after-school activities, like those offered at rec centers around the city, can help students process and avoid trauma.

At the panel discussion outside the Lonnie Young Rec Center in Germantown, Laura Vega, a Clinical Operations Manager with CHOP Violence Prevention, spoke about the prevalence of trauma among young people in the city.

“So many youth are struggling with nightmares and flashbacks and trouble sleeping, having trouble concentrating…it’s not something that’s wrong with them but it’s something because of the experience that they have gone through,” Vega said. “Youth can heal from these traumatic experiences and they don’t have to be defined by these experiences either.”

One of the ways the panelists believe that youth can heal is by participating in after-school activities, like those offered in Philly’s many recreation centers.

“Making sure that [students] have safe spaces that they can go and that they can pursue interests–you know, writing, music, sports–it’s really important to the overall health of our community to reduce violence,” said Vega. “I think people may not understand it as directly impacting violence but it does, it has a huge impact.”

In addition to Rec Center activities, Philly schools provide after-school programming, too. At FLC, there are a wide variety of after-school clubs and sports that students can join. These activities range from major-specific interests like HOSA and FBLA to performance-based activities like Mock Trial and Musical Theater. Robotics and chess keep students thinking and sports from soccer to softball keep them moving.

FLC after-school activities 2021-22

9th grade cheerleader Estefani Orellana knows that one of the benefits of after-school activities is stress relief.

“While attending after-school activities,” says Orellana, “I tend to forget about any assignments that may not be completed, my grades, and any problematic and challenging situations that may be occurring from time to time.”

Medical Assisting teacher Jessica Way is also the co-sponsor of HOSA, an after-school club for students hoping to pursue medical careers.

One of HOSA’s strengths, she says, is “helping students who might be dealing with anxiety and depression find a positive outlet where they can go on trips, where they feel like they can really succeed and be better prepared for college, and also a place where they can make friends if they’re feeling isolated from other people.”

10th grader Mei Nghiem is a cheerleader and participates in HOSA. She finds herself “more active” and “more open-minded” during after-school activities.

“I would rather be in a club or sport after-school because it benefits me educationally, mentally, and physically,” Nghiem says. “I feel safe at after-school activities because the community shows that they care.”