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LCPS goes to SEA for summer of learning and fun

In mid-June, Lenoir County Public Schools will launch a six-week in-person summer learning program designed to address the instructional, emotional and creative needs of K-12 students who’ve seen their school days dramatically altered – and, in some cases, upended – by the coronavirus pandemic.

LCPS’s Summer Enrichment Academy, or SEA, will run June 14-July 22 with classes Monday through Thursday from 7:50 a.m. to 3 p.m. The district will provide transportation and no-cost breakfast and lunch, just as in a regular school year. Attendance is voluntary, but LCPS is already reaching out to families to generate interest.

“We want as many children as possible to be with us this summer,” Associate Superintendent Frances Herring told the Lenoir County Board of Education during a presentation about SEA Monday night. “The schools have already started making personal phone calls to parents and guardians regarding the summer program and making a personal appeal to parents to enroll their children.”

A flyer describing the Summer Enrichment Academy has gone out to families of students and similar information is posted on all the schools’ websites and Facebook pages, as well as the district website at www.lcpsnc.org. At all sites and on the district’s Twitter account (@lcpsnc) parents can find a link to the form they can use to identify their students as SEA enrollees.

“We’ve been working hard on this. We’re pleased that our program provides a balanced approach,” Superintendent Brent Williams said during the school board meeting. “We have the required academic and student support elements but we also have a great deal of high-interest, high-engagement enhancement activities.”

SEA is the most ambitious summer learning program the district has offered in decades, according to administrators, and aims to approximate as closely as possible the blend of academics, extracurricular activities and student support that characterizes a typical school year – all in accordance with new legislation mandating all public school districts “offer a school extension learning recovery and enrichment program” this summer.

“The legislation is very, very specific about what needs to be included and how it needs to be included, so of course we’re following the legislation very closely,” Herring told school board members. “But what is really interesting about this piece of legislation is that it actually has the word ‘fun’ in it.”

Along with instruction in core subject areas tailored to grade levels, each day of SEA will include physical activity and enrichment classes in areas like music, art, STEM, creative writing, agriculture, theater and more.

K-8 students will receive instruction in reading, math, science and enrichment classes. “The kids will have a fun time,” Herring said.

The Read to Achieve program that has for the past several summers worked to improve the literacy skills of primary-grade students who need the additional instruction and the district’s English Learners program for K-5 students for whom English isn’t spoken at home are being folded into the Summer Enrichment Academy, with time carved out of the school day for specific program-related instruction.

High school students will receive instruction in English, math, science and social studies, as well as enrichment activities. High school students who need credit recovery to move them closer to graduation will be offered credit recovery opportunities.

“We’ll have a wide range of CTE courses, PE and plenty of things for high school students to choose as elective courses,” Herring said.

All students will have access to individual and small-group instruction as well as “in-person social emotional learning support,” she said. “We have school courses and social workers working this summer. We have time built out in the schedule at the beginning of the day dedicated to face-to-face social emotional support.”

A full range of Exceptional Children services will also be offered.

The Summer Enrichment Program will operate under Plan A guidelines, with face coverings required and school staffs mindful of social distancing were possible. LCPS is closing the current school year under Plan A.

Currently, eight schools are designated as sites for SEA – Moss Hill, Northwest, Contentnea-Savannah, EB Frink, Woodington and Kinston, North Lenoir and South Lenoir high schools. As is typical with summer schools, though, students enrolled at one school during the regular academic year may find themselves at another school for the summer.

Even the current list of sites may change depending on demand. “As we firm up the number of students actually attending and the staff, we may have to adjust,” Herring said. “This is our starting point.”