While most of our students and staff are enjoying a much-deserved summer break, the learning doesn’t stop in Dalton Public Schools. As soon as school dismissed for the summer, our district continued serving the needs of students through our summer reading program, academic learning opportunities, special interests and sports camps and the summer nutrition program.
This year, Big Red READS celebrates 10 years of providing books to Dalton students during the summer months. Congratulations to Alice Ensley, our district instructional coach, who had the idea to keep students reading books that were targeted for their reading levels to help reduce the summer slide in learning. Alice and her many volunteers and supporters are great examples of people who are passionate about the success of our students and put their time and energy into making a real difference in Dalton. The Big Red READS bus will be out and about on Mondays and Wednesdays and will also have parent resources available. For a schedule, go to the daltonpublicschool.com website under Summer Resources.
For our youngest students, we have three rising pre-k classes and one rising kindergarten inclusion class that are preparing 56 students for school readiness, sponsored by Georgia’s Department of Early Child Care and Learning. These children, who have not attended school before, are learning about structure, independence and academic play. We also have CORE (City of Refuge Education) Camp for students in grades one through five. Funded through community grants, these 100 students are benefiting from activities and instruction that will enhance their academic performance.
Fifty students in grades two through five who are new to the country recently participated in CATapult, a summer camp for language learners. This first-time camp was designed to continue to help the students learn English as well as social skills and some integration of culture.
For the middle school students, the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce held the sixth annual Design, Engineering and Manufacturing (DEM) Camp a couple of weeks ago. Rising six-, seventh- and eighth-graders had the opportunity to learn more about robotics, technology and our local industry. This was just one of numerous camps offered by local nonprofits that provided fun learning experiences designed to grow and expand students’ interests.
Dalton Public Schools is offering our second annual Med Camp this coming week for students interested in a career in health care. Rising eighth- and ninth-graders will spend the week studying health care science as it relates to the heart. Organized in conjunction with Mercer Medical School, Dalton State College School of Health Professions and Hamilton Medical Center, students can learn about careers in the medical field.
High school students who need extra credit to get back on track for graduation are attending our summer school program at Morris Innovative High School. We have enrolled 156 students. We have 41 additional students who qualify for English Language Learners support who are taking summer coursework to earn core credit.
Also, some students participate in summer trips with their teachers. Morris Innovative High School had students who were touring Los Angeles with their music teacher and Dalton High School juniors enjoyed a trip to New York City and Boston where they toured historical sites with their history teacher.
We know that 75% of our student body qualifies for free or reduced meals during the school year, and the food insecurity doesn’t end when the last bell of the school year rings. Our school nutrition department sponsors a summer food service program that provides lunch in 37 locations on weekdays throughout the city to children and teens below the age of 18 for free. Free breakfast is also available at Joan Lewis Park from 8 to 8:15 a.m. Monday through Friday. Currently, the program is serving an average of 1,000 breakfasts and 2,000 lunches per day. For a location near you, text “Summer Meals” to 97779.
I would be remiss in not mentioning the numerous summer sports camps for students of all ages and ability levels sponsored by our school’s athletic programs. It’s always fun to see these young Cats working hard on their chosen sport with the current high school athletes.
While most people think of summer as a time of rest and relaxation, we have numerous students and staff who are working hard academically and athletically. With a little more than a month before school starts back on Wednesday, Aug. 7, I hope everyone will have some down time to rest and rejuvenate.
Tim Scott is superintendent of Dalton Public Schools.