Northeast Times

Students ‘extend school year’ this summer in Northeast

  • Staying sharp: The “extended school year” program runs from the first week of July to the second week of August with the idea of keeping students in a structured setting. On Aug. 7, the last day of classes, kids at Samuel Fels High School were given ice cream courtesy of country music station 92.5 WXTU. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

  • Staying sharp: The “extended school year” program runs from the first week of July to the second week of August with the idea of keeping students in a structured setting. On Aug. 7, the last day of classes, kids at Samuel Fels High School were given ice cream courtesy of country music station 92.5 WXTU. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

Thou­sands of kids went to school this sum­mer and par­ti­cip­ated in a spe­cial pro­gram that main­tains school struc­ture and helps fo­cus on key parts of their edu­ca­tion. In the North­east, the “ex­ten­ded school year” pro­gram was hos­ted at Lin­coln High, LaB­rum Middle School and at Fels High School, where the kids got ice cream cour­tesy of a loc­al ra­dio sta­tion on Aug. 7, the last day of classes.

Sol­is-Co­hen Ele­ment­ary spe­cial edu­ca­tion teach­er Kev­in Griff­is vo­lun­teers at the Fels site, and he asked coun­try mu­sic sta­tion 92.5 WXTU to bring its ice cream truck to Fels.

“I was their teach­er of the month in Oc­to­ber,” he said last week as the kids lined up for ice cream and oth­er treats out­side the school. “This was my first year vo­lun­teer­ing here, so I asked the sta­tion if they could do any­thing for the kids.”

The pro­gram is not re­quired, Griff­is said. It is, in­stead, re­com­men­ded to par­ents. It runs from the first week of Ju­ly to the second week of Au­gust with the idea of keep­ing the stu­dents in kinder­garten through high school in a struc­tured set­ting. 

Kids are in the school five hours a day. Stu­dents get break­fast and lunch and three hours of in­struc­tion. They each re­ceive an in­di­vidu­al­ized pro­gram to fol­low, and teach­ers keep track of their pro­gress.

For ex­ample, Daniel Koontz, who at­tends Hard­ing Middle School in Frank­ford dur­ing the reg­u­lar school year, and Mat­thew Soade, who at­tends Mor­ris­on Ele­ment­ary in Ol­ney, both con­cen­trated on read­ing dur­ing the sum­mer.

Griff­is said more than 230 stu­dents in 21 classes par­ti­cip­ated in the pro­gram at Fels this sum­mer. The kids are from all over the area. The schools that were picked have plenty of room and air con­di­tion­ing, Griff­is said.

Do all the kids like go­ing to school in Ju­ly and early Au­gust? Some com­plain about it, Griff­is said, but oth­ers are very happy to be there. “They race in here from their school buses,” he said.

From the per­spect­ive of a teach­er, he said, he can see the pro­gram’s ef­fect­ive­ness.

“You can see the dif­fer­ence between the kids who come and those who don’t,” he said.

At Fels, the pro­gram is dir­ec­ted by Deirdre Childs, and Aus­tin Mee­han prin­cip­al Mary Jack­son serves as its prin­cip­al, Griff­is said. Mike Ma­hal­is and Ar­mando Jen­kins also vo­lun­teered at Fels this year.

Par­ents with eyes on next sum­mer can con­tact the prin­cipals of their chil­dren’s schools or school coun­selors to ask about the pro­gram. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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