HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Elementary school students have A+ and high-schoolers often have sports or other extracurriculars, but what is there to keep Hawaii's middle school students busy in the hours after school before their parents are done with work? The state has a new plan to fill that important gap in intermediate students' days—they're calling it the Hawai'i Intermediate/Middle School Challenge.
Studies indicate parents begin leaving their children alone after school starting around the 6th grade. Other statistics show, a student is more likely to get in trouble – or even get hurt – between the hours of 3 to 7 p.m. on school days, which is why school officials say after school programs for middle school students are crucial to their development and success.
"This gives them an opportunity to use their energy and learn something, express themselves – really get engaged in an activity that maybe there isn't time for during the school day," said State Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.
The state plans to mirror successful existing programs, like those at Washington Middle School, and expand them to campuses statewide. Right now, Washington is able to offer academic enrichment, arts & culture and even athletics outside of instructional hours thanks to teachers and staff who volunteer.
"They know that these kinds of activities are going to help them – not just feel better about themselves but help them do better academically. So that's why I have most of my teachers are engaged in some sort of after school activity out of the goodness of their heart," said Michael Harano, the Principal at Washington Middle.
Officials say the perfect example of an after school program's success is the Washington Middle Math Team, they've won the State competition three years in a row and this year they're heading to Washington, D.C. for Nationals.
"I like being able to know how to use different formulas in everyday life and also being around my friends," said Branden Tsuji-Jones, a math team member.
Officials admit their biggest obstacle is funding. Under the Lt. Governor's initiative, funding would be secured by finding ways to supplement federal grants.
"It's going to be important that we look to the business communities, to our community partners to partner up with us and to provide not only financial resources but maybe even their time, and their knowledge," said Lt. Governor Shan Tsutsui.
It's not everyday adults and teens see eye-to-eye, but when it comes to the importance of after school programs – everyone seems to be on the same page.
"The after school activity – it just keeps me entertained and it just keeps me really active and well-rounded, and so that I'm not just bored and sitting around in my house watching TV," said Eimani Thomas, the Washington Middle Student Body President.