Madelyn Conley, Co-Editor-In-Chief
27th October, 2022
This 2022-23 school year is filled with many new additions to Arcata High. Whether that be new teachers, staff, sporting facilities, policies, or classes, this year is full of many exciting changes. One of these new additions to the school is the Tiger Opportunity Center, or the T.O.C., that is located one door down from the library. This room used to be the library lab but is now full of multiple opportunities for students to receive help, find a safe place, and prepare for their future. The T.O.C. contains the Indian Education center, TRiO, the California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP), Arcata High’s work experience class, and members of the Yurok Tribe who provide tutoring services for students.
Arcata High’s career and college coordinator, Darcy Robins, was the creator of the T.O.C.. She was inspired by McKinleyville High School’s large office full of services that provide help for students and realized that there wasn’t anything similar on our campus.
“What I’d really like to spread the word about is TRiO and the resources for Native American students. Not so much the existence of the Tiger Opportunity Center but of all the organizations that students have access to,” Robins said.
Vanessa Cota, a college access advisor and TRiO employee, is just one of the members a part of the T.O.C.. TRIO supports students who are low income or first generation college students.
“I basically meet with students one on one or in group settings, we do workshops and field trips, and I talk to them about anything they have questions about regarding academics, study skills, life skills, financial aid, college and career prep,” Cota said.
This organization is extremely helpful for students who need support in those areas.
“I’ve been doing this job for over two years but I’m new to this campus. At first I thought students might not use the T.O.C. as a resource, but I’ve seen students come in here on their own which is nice. Seeing students come in and leave with better tools and confidence is really cool to see as someone who wants the best for them,” Cota said.
Other organizations present in the T.O.C. are Cal-SOAP and the work experience class. Valentin Velazco, a success coach for Cal-SOAP, helps students with their opportunities after high school and financial aid. Katie Woerner, an instructor from the College of the Redwoods is the teacher for Work Experience this year. This class is where students receive credit for the hours they work.
“I’ve enjoyed being in the T.O.C. and learning about different helping professions and being able to bounce ideas off of people,” Woerner said.
The Indian Education office was taken for this year so this organization had no where to go. Now in the T.O.C., Indian Ed. can advise the Native American Club meetings and assist Native American students with whatever they need.
According to Sheila Richards, an Indian Education staff member, “Indian Ed. assists in academic and other things to remove barriers that native kids will have in the school system here in NOHUM. We make sure they have everything they need to succeed here in school and beyond.”
Indian Ed. and Yurok tribe members in the same space have increased the support for Native American students. However, with the combination of many other organizations in the same place, scheduling conflicts can occur.
“I do miss the privacy of being able to talk to a kid. For the scope of work we do in Indian Ed. I don’t want them to feel like they’re in trouble if we’re pulling them off into a different room,” Richards said.
So far, the T.O.C. proves to be beneficial for students and even staff members.
“Sometimes staff members aren’t NOHUM employees, and it can make you feel wanted and more valued when you have your own desk and space, and not being told where you can go each day. Mainly it’s for students so they can have somewhere to go but I hope it’s letting staff members know that we value them,” Robins expressed.
Students are encouraged to visit the T.O.C. if they have any questions or concerns regarding their future or current academics. This supportive space is hoped to continue for quite some time here at Arcata High.