Bear Creek’s freshman football teams have struggled to exist after the release of quarter grades. When counselor Ren Pham-Peck noticed how many freshman football players became ineligible to play due to failing grades, she decided to initiate a program to prevent the annual “grade drain.”
All players were required to attend this study hall program every day before practice. With a total of three classes, each housed roughly 20 to 30 freshman and JV players, an administrator and a tutor, while varsity players attended a separate study hall. Three senior tutors led the Football Academy: Angelo Bulahan, Mansour Sagna and Duc Nguyen. Each tutor was hand selected by Pham-Peck, but in previous years, tutors have been found through teacher recommendations.
Unlike weekly Tuesday and Thursday tutorial tutors, ASP tutors did not have to undergo an interview process or any form of training, because according to Pham-Peck, the whole process would have taken too much time to find tutors since the season had already begun. Tutors were paid $11 per hour.
Football players were hopeful with this year’s outcome, as varsity players tried to convey the importance of keeping grade point averages above a 2.0.
“I think most people have focused a lot more on grades because of the colleges that have been giving the players attention and telling them that grades are a key factor to getting into college,” varsity football captain Chaz Davis, a senior, said. “Players are starting to understand more and get motivated to do their work.”
“This year, we [were] really focusing on getting on each other to do our work before practice and to prevent slacking,” varsity wide receiver Calvin Tran, a junior, said.
However, once first quarter grades were released, over 50 percent of the freshman team did not reach the 2.0 GPA required to play, curtailing their season. Since then, the program is being evaluated with the hope that more students get motivated and teachers stay committed.
Many students questioned why only football had a specific tutorial program. However, in order to sustain any ASP, an average of 20 students need to attend each day, hence the reason there are not specific programs for each sport.
In the middle of the season, English teacher Kristen Graham had to drop out of the program; Special Education teacher Susan Pazo replaced Graham but was soon unable to keep up with the program and also had to drop out. This left tutees having to combine classes, changing the tutor-tutee ratio from one tutor for 20 people to one tutor for 30 people.
Each of the student athletes that did not make grades have been analyzed to see if they were assigned to the class with the teacher that cancelled. If they were, Pham-Peck hopes to make sure that the replacement teacher for next year will be fully committed to sustaining the program.
“The After School Program is designed [as voluntary for students], but because of the nature of them wanting to be on the football team, then that kind of says, ‘You signed on with tutoring, too,’” Pham-Peck said.
All tutors echoed that they had to heavily encourage their tutees to do their work and direct them in the right academic path.
“To me, they were cooperative and compatible,” Nguyen said. “They just needed to be pushed.”
Pham-Peck stresses that the number one priority of the program is to serve the students.
“Next year, I want to make sure teachers are committed from the beginning and know what is going to be required from them when being teachers for Football Academy,” Pham-Peck said.
Pham-Peck is also collecting binders for next year’s freshmen to help them organize notes and assignments while maintaining academic goals for the school year. With greater preparation and structure, next year’s Football Academy hopes to reverse the repeated losses of the freshman football teams.