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NCTimes: Foundation shakes up summer school in Carlsbad

By Lola Sherman

Original article here:

June 27, 2012 8:00 am

It’s nothing like the “summer school” of old.

Not too many years ago, there was a stigma to having to attend summer school, a notice to the world that the student hadn’t done well in his or her basic classes during the regular academic year and needed remedial work.

Then, schools started adding enrichment classes to the mix.

The summer programs run by the Carlsbad Educational Foundation for nearly 500 local students are anything but remedial.

They’re 100 percent enrichment and run the gamut from Lego robotics and digital animation for youngsters in elementary or middle school to physics and online Mandarin Chinese for high schoolers.

Secondary-level classes started last week at Carlsbad High. Elementary and middle grade programs began Monday at Magnolia School.

Sandy Haasis, the on-site program manager, said there is still time to register students for the next four weeks of weekly sessions.

“We welcome everybody —- the more the merrier,” Haasis said.

In all, she said, 50 classes —- from global music to iPad applications —- are being offered with few repeats from week to week.

Each class runs for three hours, either in the morning or the afternoon, for one week.

Haasis said a student could take 10 classes total over the five-week time frame by taking two classes each week —- one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

A visit to the Magnolia campus on opening day found youngsters busy with digital photography and digital animation.

“Do you want to see my name bounce?, an excited Tarik Campbell, 12, asked in teacher Taresa McSpadden’s animation class when he got his name to jump around the computer screen. Tarik said he also had made clouds move on the screen.

That afternoon, Tarik was going to take the video-game design class.

In other classes, the younger set —- those going into kindergarten through third grade —- was studying the motion of planes, trains and automobiles.

Five-year-old Luka Shah was learning how the thrust of force could propel objects through the air.

Haasis said the summer classes should help some of the very young get used to the concept of going to school (in a relaxed atmosphere with only a few other pupils) before they have to face the full force of academic life in the fall.

Each class can take 25 students but only the Top Chefs, Jr. class in the afternoon approached that enrollment this first week.

Haasis made aprons for each of the students to keep.

Although there are no stoves in the classroom, and students will not actually “cook,” teacher Matt Finocchiaro said he plans for them to prepare some very special recipes, including sushi.

There’s even a Mandarin Chinese class at this level, but it’s much less intense than the high-school course.

In fact, Valin Brown, chief executive officer of the sponsoring educational foundation, said the high-school classes are super-intense so that they can provide a semester’s worth of credits in six weeks.

Students concentrate on one class 5 1/2 hours a day, four days a week. One day is like a week of regular school, he said.

Also offered at the high-school level are English, geometry, physics, Spanish, economics, government and U.S. and world history.

Parent Peter Meade noted that the program gives students a jump-start on their school-year classes.

“This way,” Meade said, “they gain extra flexibility in their September schedules as they will have gotten some courses out of the way already.”

Brown said the high-school program, which started two years ago, is building slowly, enrolling about 60 students this year.

High-school tuition is $249 for five-credit classes and $495 for 10-unit courses. The Chinese program costs $598.

Meanwhile, enrollment in the elementary-middle school academy has already topped the 400 mark.

The cost usually is around $120 per weeklong class —- $165 in the case of web site design —- and some classes add materials fees.

Extended day care is available for $20 a day or $85 a week.

Money raised from the tuition pays for the teachers, supplies and rental of the buildings from the Carlsbad Unified School District. It also helps to raise the $500,000 the nonprofit foundation’s grant program spends each year supporting music and science programs in the schools.

Registration is available online at