YMCA Adds Programs for Middle and High School Students
November 18, 2022
Izzy Hessian remembers what it’s like to be a busy teen juggling homework, after-school
activities, and social time with friends. As a 2019 graduate of Northfield High School and a
recent graduate of the University of Minnesota, she’s drawn upon her not-too-distant memories
of high school life as she’s helped create a new hangout space for young people at the Northfield
Area Family YMCA.
Homework Help is located in the Y’s community room, which is furnished with tables and chairs and a cozy fireplace. It’s open every Wednesday from 3:30–8 p.m. and is free for any students in grades 6–12 — for YMCA members and non-members alike.
“The idea was to create a space where students can go, regardless of membership, and whether
they need direct tutoring or not, that is welcoming,” said Hessian, who is serving as the Y’s first-
ever AmeriCorps Promise Fellow. “I wanted it to be a drop-in experience, and not have students
feel like they had to be here for a specific time.”
Hessian has stocked the Homework Help site with everything she could think of that students
might need – including school supplies, a keyboard to plug into an iPad, cardstock for group
projects, and snacks. She hopes the Y will become a convenient place for students to meet,
including those who regularly stop in after school to shoot hoops or work out. She speaks
Spanish and is available to help both Spanish-speaking students and their families, and English-speaking students studying Spanish.
Northfield Area Family YMCA CEO Krista Danner said the Y strives to assess the needs of the
community and fill in programming gaps, rather than compete with existing programs. Through conversations with community partners, families, and youth about what was most needed, the Y leadership decided to make out-of-school-time programming for middle and high school youth a priority.
“We want to offer a place and space for all youth to participate,” Danner said.
This is the first time the Y has offered homework tutoring on site, although it did coordinate off-
site help at Emmaus Church for TORCH students during an earlier stage of the pandemic.
In addition to offering weekly Homework Help, the Y is holding monthly activity nights for
middle school students from 7:30-10 p.m. The next one is set for Dec. 16. Registration prior to
the event is strongly encouraged.
Another new program is the YMCA Leaders Club, a service-oriented and personal development
program for students in grades 6-12. Registration for the Leaders Club opened Nov. 15, and the
program starts in January.
“These are all programs being offered to the community for the first time through the Y and are
made possible by partnerships,” Danner said.
The Y is also launching an intramural volleyball league and relaunching its intramural basketball league for students in grades 9-12. It’s free to participate, but registration is required. Volleyball began Nov. 17 and runs through Dec. 15, and basketball will run January through February.
To learn more about the Y programs, or to register, click here.
Another Y program for young people that is not new, but remains popular, is Youth in
Government. Danner said 75 students in grades 8-12 have registered, and scholarships are
available. The Y also employs many 16- to 18-year-olds and offers youth memberships.
All the youth programs except Youth in Government are funded through philanthropy and by a
grant from Ignite Afterschool through the Minnesota Department of Education using federal
funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.
For more information about the YMCA, visit northfieldymca.org, call 507-645-0088, or visit the
Y, located at 1501 Honeylocust Drive in Northfield.