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School not over yet for some students

By Shannon Jenkins

The educational atmosphere is a bit different during the summer, one school official said.

"We have to run things on a little tighter schedule because there is less academic time available during the summer session," said Tom Smith, who is serving as the summer school principal for Henry County's high schools. "The work tends to be more hands-on and at a quicker pace because in most situations the information presented is not new."

Teachers try to vary the instruction to meet the needs of all the learners, he said.

Approximately 500 students are enrolled in Henry County's high school summer program – with 15 teachers offering educational guidance – at Dutchtown High School through July 19.

Smith, who serves as assistant principal at Dutchtown High during the regular academic year, said 37 different sections are being offered in the following subjects: physical science, biology, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, world history, U.S. history, government, economics, SAT preparation, Spanish I and II, English I, II, III and IV and science, technology and society.

The main benefit of summer school, he said, seems to be the amount of continuous time taught on each subject.

"The students are in class for two hours and 15 minutes rather than the traditional 55 minutes, and they are doing more hands-on work and receiving information presented with a variety of instructional methods," Smith said.

Other factors also contribute to the benefits of summer school.

"There are fewer distractions because we don't have traditional lunch periods, and they are focused on a maximum of three classes, rather than six," Smith said. "A lot of students are motivated to get back on track, graduate in July and to get ahead of schedule with some of their classes."

It's also the second time around for most students, he said, and therefore they have a sense of familiarity.

As for the rest of Henry County, 80 middle schoolers are enrolled at both summer schools held at Austin Road Middle and Dutchtown Middle. At Henry County Middle School, 158 students are registered. These schools serve as central locations and draw from other middle schools in the area.

Each elementary school in the county is holding its own summer school, where students are also gearing up to retake portions of the CRCT exam taken this spring. Only those third- and fifth-graders who did not meet grade expectations on the reading portion of the CRCT must retake the test. Fifth-graders will also retake the exam if they failed the math portion.

In Clayton County, Superintendent of Education Barbara Pulliam updated the Board of Education at its meeting last Monday on the its county program.

"Summer school got under way without incident," she told the board. "It was a smooth opening."

The elementary and middle school sessions began on June 6 and will continue through July 1, school spokesman Charles White said, and the high school program will be offered in two sessions. The first began last Monday and will conclude on June 24. The following session will be held June 27 to July 22.

The elementary program is being offered on the Church Street, Edmonds, Fountain, Harper, Lee Street, Marshall, Mt. Zion and Swint elementary campuses. White said Babb, Mundy's Mill, and Riverdale middle schools will host the middle school program, while the high school program will be located at Mundy's Mill High during the first session and at Mundy's Mill and North Clayton high schools during the second.

Almost 300 teachers will work throughout the summer, and over 5,100 students are enrolled in summer school programs this year, White said.

"The elementary summer session is strictly for remediation under the mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act," White said. "The middle school focuses on students who are involved in focused remediation of core courses."

As for the high school sessions, White said an exact percentage is not available, but "it is safe to say that most of the high school students ... are attending summer school for remediation purposes, with a large portion of those students working on Algebra and Geometry."

White said the atmosphere in summer school is "very concentrated, highly organized instruction successfully compacting 80-plus hours of instruction into a 60-hour session."