Oscar Ravelo would rather play football on Saturday mornings than spend more than three hours cooped up in a classroom.
For Ravelo and thousands of other California students who have low grades or who want additional help, the school week has spilled over into the weekend.
Saturday school is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District's Beyond the Bell program, which encompasses the myriad classes stretching beyond the traditional school day.
The so-called extended learning academies were implemented districtwide last year for middle school and high school students.
The nine-week voluntary program provides tutoring in English and math and prepares high school students for the state-mandated California High School Exit Exam.
"It's a 30-hour program, not 300, so it's not a life sentence," said John Leichty, an associate superintendent who oversees Beyond the Bell.
All high schools provide preparation for the high school exit exam; some offer after-school programs and others have Saturday school, Leichty said. "We didn't want to do it cookie-cutter because every school is different," he said.
The additional instruction came in response to the federal No Child Left Behind Act, signed by President Bush in 2002.
The law is designed to raise achievement levels, in part by requiring schools to offer free tutoring and after-school assistance for students in danger of falling below grade-level standards.
Beginning in the 2005-06 school year, high school students must pass the English and math portions of the exam to receive a diploma. Beginning in the second half of the 10th grade, students have six opportunities to take the test, and they are allowed to retake sections they haven't passed.
Because participation in Beyond the Bell is voluntary, school officials try to persuade students to attend. "[We] encourage them, counsel them and beg them to take part in the program," Leichty said.
Kaplan, an education test preparation company, provides the materials and entices students to attend by donating gift certificates, movie tickets, CD players and video game systems, which are raffled off weekly.
At Garfield High School in East Los Angeles, Assistant Principal Jose Huerta walks around campus trying to catch the attention of students with a box labeled "Saturday School" that he keeps full of applications.
Huerta said many kids are embarrassed to step out of their groups of friends and ask for applications, but "if the cool guy or the cool girl tells me that they want one, everyone wants one."
Administrators also send letters to homes of students who have received Ds or Fs in English and math and telling them that help is available. Last session, Garfield administrators sent out 1,500 such letters, and 900 students signed up and attended at least once.
For the session that started last month, 661 students enrolled and more are expected, Huerta said.
The smaller class sizes on Saturday help the students become more confident, said Huerta, who oversees the program.
"Here they make a connection with the teachers and they feel like they fit in," Huerta said. "These are kids who are just a little bit misguided, and if you put them on the right path, they excel."
Sara Puma, the student intervention counselor, reaches out to pupils who are not succeeding academically and helps some deal with issues at home that may be keeping them from concentrating on their schoolwork.
"A lot of them come because they don't want to be home," Puma said. "It's sad, but at least they have somewhere to go, and it's going to help them in the long run."
When students attend Saturday classes and start feeling better about themselves, she said, they start attending school regularly and raising their grades.
"Even if it's one grade -- from an F to a D -- it's an improvement," Puma said.
Some students sign up for the Saturday classes themselves; others are encouraged to attend by their parents.
Maricela Guzman and her husband enrolled their 15-year-old son in Saturday school because he had mentioned that he was having trouble with math.
"It bothered him because Saturday is his day to wake up late," she said in Spanish. "But going to school is always a good thing. Even if he doesn't need the help because he already has good grades, he can always learn more." She added that the sophomore's grade in math went from a B to an A.
For some, the preparation helps quell the anxiety that tests tend to provoke.
Gerardo Alegre, 15, is nervous about the high school exit test, especially the English portion. After attending one session last year, his grade in English went from a D to a B. This year, he hopes to get it up to an A.
"They help us a lot," the 10th-grader said. "We read together, they ask us questions, and what we don't know, they help us on."
Sophomore Jackie Soto isn't going to school on Saturdays because she needs to.
An A student, she just wants to know what to expect when she takes the high school exit exam.