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‘There was some great growth going on’ — Summer enrichment program comes to a close

Local students got hands-on experience with the fun side of education this month at a summer learning program for city schools.

The Brookhaven School District organized the 21st Century Community Learning Center, a summer enrichment program for students in grades 3-12. The program was designed to enrich students in their academic growth during the summer months.

“The kids have had a blast for the time that they’re here,” onsite coordinator Eric Stokes said. Stokes is assistant principal at Lipsey Middle School.

During the summer enrichment program, the students attended six activity periods at Lipsey. These included physical education, science, art, drug and violence prevention, character education and summer reading. The attendance averaged around 50 students during the program, which ran during the week through June.

The goal of the program is to help students meet requirements in their core academic subjects. It is also meant to provide activities that will complement the student’s academic courses. It is run by various teachers within the school district to provide quality instruction.

The students were put into groups based on age and school. There was a smaller group setting, so there was plenty of one on one instruction. There were certain areas assigned for different age groups. Third graders studied material for the gateway test. Fifth- and sixth-graders focused on the disadvantages of low performance. High schoolers learned about dropout prevention.

Leah Ann Peavey, a teacher at Brookhaven Technical Center, worked with the students as one of the teachers for the science and health period. There was always something to do during this period, especially hands-on activities ranging from making slime to building rockets.

“It’s not just for struggling students or honors students, it’s for everyone,” Peavey said.

The students that participated in the program had the opportunity to hear guest speakers. Amy Case from King’s Daughters Medical Center spoke about nutrition and healthy meal choices. Jay Ballard, a dentist, spoke about the benefits of dental health.

The students had the option of taking the school bus to and from Lipsey during the course of the program. They were also able to attend field trips around Brookhaven. The free summer food program was going on at the same time, so the students had meals available as well.

A program like this isn’t effective unless the students enjoy themselves and learn from it. Mom Teresa Posey was happy to say that her daughter enjoyed herself.

“As a day camp, you can’t beat the hours or the quality of care for the price,” Posey said. “I don’t think you can go wrong with the experience.”

Like anything else, there was a process to be a part of the summer enrichment program. During the school year, there is an application period in which one must apply. The school may also choose students based on data.

The 21st Century Learning Center is a federally-funded program. The Brookhaven School District was required to apply for a five-year grant. This is the fourth year the district has had the grant, and so they will have to apply for the grant again next year. The summer enrichment program concluded this past Friday.

“The program went well,” Stokes said. “There was some great growth going on.”

Story by Gracie Byrne