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. ••