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OHS Literacy Center Offers Unique Opportunity
Writing The Way
OHS student tutors are well under way in this school year aiding their peers in the Literacy Center. Now in its second year, the group meets weekly to offer students help with writing assignments. Teresa Hammond/The Leader


Proving to not be ones to rest on their laurels, administrators, teachers and students of Oakdale High School continue to seek opportunity in the area of academic growth. One most recent area of opportunity has come in the way of the Literacy Center.

It’s an opportunity which found its way to the campus over two years ago, when the English staff was approached by Stanislaus State’s writing center with a partnership opportunity.

“One of the goals, by working with area high schools in improving their writing,” English teacher Kelly Olson shared of preparing students. “When they get to college they’ll be better writers.”

Now in its second year, the all student volunteer OHS Literacy Center offers help to students every Wednesday during lunch period as well as after school in Olson’s classroom.

To date there are only two area high schools with a Literacy Center: Hickman and Oakdale High School.

Before the center could get started implementing change, however, the tutors first needed to be identified, invited and trained.

“The students were chosen by teachers for their ability and willingness to give the time,” senior volunteer tutor Anna Hawksworth-Lutzow said, adding that student tutors are not restricted to seniors or Advanced Placement-only student body.

“I guess she saw I was doing well with others (in class) and thought I should give it a try,” fellow tutor Jesscina Crawford said of her teacher’s invitation to join the group. “Ever since I started, I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s really helpful, even for me. As the person I’m helping is learning, I’m learning too.”

The student tutors first attended three days of training with a Stan State representative. Training which included how to guide their peers versus doing the work or offering answers, as well as how to work with individual writing skills.

“We’re not here to be an editing place,” Olson said of the tutoring forum. “You don’t come to the Literacy Center and say, here correct this paper for me. We don’t do that.”

Olson also shared the OHS Language Arts Department is reviewing incentives and opportunities for the students to take advantage of this unique opportunity. Instructors have offered extra credit for using the Literacy Center or opportunity for a better grade on work D or below, if the center is utilized to address the work.

“A lot of my peers come in,” Crawford said. “I feel like it’s good to get help from your teachers, but it’s good to get help from your peers. Maybe that person gets intimidated by their teacher. It’s just more comfortable.”

The responsibility still lies on the student seeking the assistance, though, and a lunch period of 35 to 40 minutes of Literacy Center time will not be enough for work due the next day or the following period, but it can make a difference.

“It’s such an interesting experience,” Hawksworth-Lutzow said. “Helping people understand and helping them see where they might need help in with their writing.”

“You’re not just helping the person,” Crawford added. “You’re influencing them, like how they should write and what they should do. It’s not just beneficial to them, but to you too. I feel like I’ve progressed my writing ability a lot.”

The Literacy Center is a free tutoring service to students of Oakdale High School. Staff responsible for bringing the center to life each week includes Olson and fellow teachers Becky Williams and Denise Spri