The Academic Success Center provides a space for minds and relationships to grow


Students in the Academic Success Center work hard to improve their skills

Senior Ian Mahoney went Christmas shopping in downtown Grand Rapids for a project for the National Honors Society (NHS). He helped buy presents for families in need and will never forget this experience.

“My favorite part about NHS is that I get to meet different people and have new experiences that I haven’t been able to do,” Ian said with a smile. “I helped with holiday shopping in downtown Grand Rapids, and it was fun to see all the  children picking out their gifts.”

Another aspect of NHS for Ian is tutoring for the Academic Success Center(ASC)—a program run out of the media center intended to help students with school. The NHS students need volunteer hours; therefore, they help tutor in the ASC.

“I have to take part in the ASC,” Ian said. “All NHS members are required two hours, but anyone can do more than that.”

As a part of the NHS executive board, Ian is required to tutor in the ASC, but he enjoys it. He likes the opportunity, not only because he gets to meet new people—especially underclassmen—but also because he can see growth in the students that he helps.

It’s fun to get to know people outside of my grade because most people [in the ASC] are underclassmen that need help with classes I took years ago.

— Ian Mahoney

Patricia Richardson, the NHS advisor, also takes part in the ASC. Her job is to get NHS students into the media center and ensure that they are available for tutoring. The ASC has been around for as long as Richardson has been a teacher at FHC. It was created by a teacher before her.

“[The ASC] has been a thing that we’ve done at Central for as long as I’ve been teaching here, so at least fifteen years,” Richardson said. “It is something that a teacher before me wanted to do, and a student worked on it as their Gold Award project for Girl Scouts. I got involved through the National Honors Society to bring in some new tutors.”

Richardson enjoys how students are helping students because sometimes, it’s just easier for a teenager to learn from someone like them—another teenager—and the ASC provides just that.

“[I think my favorite part of the ASC is] students working with students,” Richardson said, “and the idea of student tutors working with students that have questions or need help. It allows a space for that help.”

The purpose behind the ASC is to give students a space where they can receive help without feeling judged. They can be tutored by someone who went through the course they need help with, or students can even just pop in quickly to ask a question.

In addition to lending a helping hand, the ASC provides a space for relationships to grow. Since students are working together, they are able to build connections with each other which is exactly the experience that Ian went through.

“It’s fun to get to know people outside of my grade because most people [in the ASC] are underclassmen that need help with classes I took years ago,” Ian said. “But  [I also like] seeing growth.”

Growth is something that is very present in the ASC. Students can grow from both tutoring as well as being tutored. As a tutor, a student learns how to be patient and non-judgemental. As a tutee, a student can grow in the subject they are receiving help with.

Natalie Belsito—a new science teacher at FHC—took part in the ASC last year as a student teacher. She has mentioned ways for the ASC to get more students involved. Simple things such as talking about it more would make a large impact.

“I think just constantly broadcasting that the ASC is available and there are people to support you [is a way to spread the word about the ASC],” Belsito said.

As Belsito said, the people there will support you. They are there to help you and they are people you can talk to. Belsito also mentioned that peer connection is very prominent in the ASC, so if you are looking for some help and want to potentially make some friends, the ASC would be a good place to start.

Richardson also mentioned that the ASC was created to provide a space for students to receive help in academics, or work on homework or projects. And, she thinks that the ASC has been succeeding in its intended goal.

“[I think that the ASC has met its intended goal],” Richardson said. “Some years are better than others because of the way that kids use it, but I [believe] that if more students realized the power of being there and using it as a common space to meet and do homework after school, I think it would be even better.”