Vacation academies filling up quickly

·2 min read

Feb. 1—HAVERHILL — While many children in the city's schools will be sleeping in during their February and April school vacations, some of their peers will be headed to "vacation academies."

The Title I program will be in operation Tuesdays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., on Feb. 22-25 and April 19-22. It is open to all Haverhill public school families with children in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Dianne Connolly, director of Title I and community outreach, said parents are attracted to the program for various reasons. These include having a child care option during a school vacation week, providing their children with additional academic opportunities, and having a place where their children can interact with others while building positive relationships with staff and peers.

Academics will be the focus from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each day, followed by lunch, and then recreational activities from 1 to 5:30 p.m.

The morning program, run by Haverhill Public Schools staff, will include hands-on lessons in a variety of subjects. There will be a different theme each day, all of which are designed by curriculum supervisors. Themes will be the same at each site, Connolly said.

Parents have the option of enrolling their children in the morning program or the full-day program. Parents must provide round-trip transportation. Boxed breakfasts and lunches will be provided at no cost to families.

"We're excited that this year we have increased our sites to four," Connolly said, noting that the programs will operate at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Haverhill, the YWCA, the YMCA and at Pentucket Lake Elementary School, where the YMCA operates a before- and after-school program for children.

Tracy Fuller, executive director of the Haverhill and Plaistow YMCAs, said last year her organization hosted the program at the YMCA on Winter Street.

"The kids really enjoyed it and some were excited to see their own teacher," she said. "They enjoyed the activities, which were fun and engaging, and it was almost as if they didn't realize they were learning. It was also an opportunity for our own after-school staff to learn different ways of providing academics."

Connolly said children do not have to be members of those organizations to participate in these programs.

As of Monday, 323 children had signed up for the February program, Connolly said, which is about double last year's enrollment of 167 students, when the program was introduced. Enrollment for the April vacation program has not been announced yet.

"It goes to show that parents are looking for options and our community partners are willing to help," she said.

Also as of Monday, 34 staff members had signed on to participate in the February program, compared to 17 last year.

A few openings remain at certain grade levels and parents are asked to contact the site that interests them.