Columbia Public Schools and Stephens College partner for summer school

Monday, June 6, 2011 | 5:56 p.m. CDT; updated 7:11 p.m. CDT, Monday, June 6, 2011

COLUMBIA – Instead of diving into the pool this week, some Columbia Public School students are diving into summer school.

Columbia Public Schools opened its doors to more than 7,000 students enrolled in the Columbia Summer SUNsation program Monday, the district's community relations coordinator, Michelle Baumstark said.

As a result of an extended school year from winter snow days, teachers felt the pinch that the loss of planning time caused, said Mary Humlicek, director of Title 1 and summer school for the district.

Usually teachers and students have a one week break. This year, they had only the weekend.

"It is very difficult to close the year and start summer school the very next work day," she said.

Humlicek said teachers worked hard to make up for lost time. 

"Our teachers always do what it takes to provide the best experiences possible for kids," she said. "I think I saw a lot of cars at schools this weekend."

The short break, however, did not seem to cause problems for students, Chief Academic Officer Sally Beth Lyon said. 

"We had kids bright-eyed and ready to go this morning," she said. "They seemed excited to be there."

This year's Columbia Summer SUNsation is similar to past programs, but with a few changes, including a new location for eighth graders, Lyon said.

Students in the program who just completed middle school will take their summer classes in junior high school buildings, Lyon said. This will act as a way for students to adjust to their new surroundings before the upcoming school year.

Lyon also talked about a new course for incoming eighth- and ninth-grade girls. 

The Citizen Jane Summer Film Academy is a four week program offered in conjunction with Stephens College, she said.

The course, held on the Stephens College campus, gives girls the opportunity to learn the basics of screenwriting, acting, directing, cinematography and editing, Humlicek said. Students also will create their own original short films.

According to the academy's website, the program was created "to inspire girls to express their unique vision of the world through the art of filmmaking."

The students' original films will be presented at the Citizen Jane Film Festival in the fall, Humlicek said. They will also air on Columbia Access Television.

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