The Chatterton Middle School Video Game Club has been a way to bring students together after learning virtually after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chatterton Middle School Video Game Club has been a way to bring students together after learning virtually after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo provided by Lyle Dixon

Presentation focuses on two Fitzgerald programs

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published June 29, 2022


WARREN — The Fitzgerald Public Schools Board of Education recently got a closer view of two programs in the district.

At the May 9 Board of Education meeting, Fitzgerald High School ninth grade transition success coordinator Jeff Skop presented an overview of the ninth grade program.

At the same meeting, Chatterton Middle School special education teacher Lyle Dixon gave a PowerPoint presentation about the school’s Video Game Club.

Here is a look at both programs.


Ninth grade
“I work with our ninth grade school counselor Chioke Bracy. We make up the ninth grade team and build relationships with the ninth graders,” Skop said. “We try to help them facilitate their academics and social success. They come to us with whatever issues come up. They come to me with whatever they need. We’re just getting back to normal after the pandemic.”

That includes working with students one on one or in small groups, working on study skills, and organizing and making plans for students who fall behind. Parent communication and classroom discipline also are stressed.

“Any kid that is currently failing has a plan of action in place where we can set them up in summer school,” Skop said. “We can work on whatever faults they have.”

Skop said he stands at the front door as the students arrive every morning. He can tell just by the looks on their faces who’s going to need support. Skop and Bracy work with staff members and the Fitzgerald High School health team when they have concerns about a student.

According to Skop’s presentation, students are encouraged to step outside of their comfort zones to experience athletics, clubs and activities at the school. Conflict resolution, a way for two or more students to find a peaceful solution to a disagreement among them, is also explored.

“How can we talk through it and figure it out,” Skop said. “I love watching the kids grow and mature. Behaviors are improving. It’s really exciting to have the opportunity to work with the kids. Our administration and the school board are supportive of the program.”

As ninth grade transition success coordinator, Skop works to get to know the students. Another goal is to build an understanding in students that classroom discipline and academic success go hand in hand.

‘The goal is to appeal to a wide range of children’

The Chatterton Video Game Club began during the middle of this school year. Dixon received a $500 grant from the Fitzgerald Foundation for Educational Advancement, or FFEA, to purchase two video game systems.

Dixon created the video game club for students to connect with each other when returning to school after the COVID-19 pandemic. The club is open to sixth, seventh and eighth grade students.

“We knew that coming back from COVID there were going to be gaps. We knew some of them would be academic,” Dixon said.

Educators also were concerned about the students socially because they had been out of school learning virtually during the pandemic.

“There are kids that were quite withdrawn. Many of our students regressed a bit in their ability to communicate effectively with their peers,” Dixon said. “Social interaction is a crucial stage of a student’s development. There is definitely a need to reteach some of our students how to effectively communicate with the people around them.”

The club is an opportunity for students to form a community and experience sportsmanship. It’s also a chance for them to strengthen their communication skills and build teamwork.

As of now, the Chatterton Video Game Club is offered during the school lunch period.

“Sometimes you can do it while eating or after you eat,” Dixon said. “The goal is to appeal to a wide range of children.”

On average, about 20 to 40 students participate each day. Super Smash Bros., Pokémon Unite, and the NBA and NFL games are the most popular.

“They like to play with their favorite players and favorite teams,” Dixon said of the sports leagues.

During the meeting, Dixon shared photos of some recent Video Game Club events, including the all A’s award assembly at testing celebrations.

Plans are underway to offer the club after school next year. According to Dixon, the students have requested the club offer more sports games next year. They also would like to see more games where they can be on teams together and to have gaming tournaments.