Alternative summer school on wish list for Ridgeway Elementary School

Thursday, November 29, 2012 | 7:26 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Building LEGO robotics, cooking and learning foreign languages are some of the creative activities Ridgeway Elementary School hopes to infuse into its first year of summer school classes.

The school is in the running to receive one of seven of Clorox's Power a Bright Future grants worth either $50,000 or $25,000.

The grant nominees are divided into three categories: play, explore and create.

The nominee with the most votes in each category will receive a $25,000 grant; the nominee with the most overall votes will receive a $50,000 grant. Clorox will then choose one nominee from each category to receive a $25,000 each, based on merit.

After air conditioning was installed throughout Ridgeway this summer, summer school became a possibility. Faculty and parents began brainstorming summer school activities and grants to help fund classes. 

Principal Ben Tilley said the grant money would allow the school to stray from a traditional approach to summer school.

"This Clorox grant is an opportunity to explore more creative learning opportunities," he said.

With the grant money, summer school classes offered at Ridgeway would be both free and all day.

Tilley said that in a common summer school setting, academic lessons are taught in the morning while activities are saved for later in the day. Ridgeway, in the create category, plans to incorporate reading, writing and mathematics into creative learning experiences that would occur throughout the day.

The program would strive to promote creativity and reduce the loss of learning that often happens over the summer, according to a description of Ridgeway's plan on the Power a Bright Future grant website.

"(The grant) really appealed to us because we could get the community involved," Tilley said.

If Ridgeway does not receive the grant, it will still hold summer school classes, Tilley said. The classes would be closer to a traditional teaching curriculum, but the school would continue to search for ways to fund a more inventive structure.

Also in the create category is Muriel Williams Battle High. If the school receives the grant money, art supplies will be purchased to stock the visual arts department, according to the Power a Bright Future website.

Columbia Independent School is in the explore category. Digital projectors and/or Smart Boards would be bought for each classroom with the grant money, according to the website.

As of Thursday afternoon, Ridgeway was ranked 29 and Battle High 244 out of 397 schools in the create category. Columbia Independent School was ranked 505 out of 1,595 schools in the explore category.

Votes are cast on the Power a Bright Future website or through text messages sent to 95248 containing a code specific to each school. Battle High's code is 2278pbf, Ridgeway's code is 1273pbf and Columbia Independent School's code is 2456pbf. Voting ends Dec. 19.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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