Staff Photos: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith About 150 students participated in Enrichment Camp at the Rockdale Career Academy this week. Pictured is 11-year-old Nydia Gay from Davis Middle School making a North African pork kabob for the Cooking Up Culture class.
CONYERS -- The smells of African food and banana muffins filled the halls at Rockdale Career Academy this week while students learned a new set of skills.
About 150 elementary and middle school students spent part of their winter break at Enrichment Camp learning about different cultures, making crafts and even practicing measurements.
"The kids that come here are nice, and it's good for us to do this outside of school," said Maleah Raine Peacock, a fourth-grader at J.H. House Elementary School.
One hundred elementary school students and 51 middle school students showed up to the camps this week -- second-graders studied the Hawaiian Luau, third-graders took an Alaskan Adventure, fourth-graders had a Tropical Culture Explosion and fifth-graders experienced Mass Measurement Mania.
"We've grown, and we've got two middle school classes this time," compared to one in the fall, said Alex Alvarez, academic rigor coordinator in the Office of School Improvement at Rockdale County Public Schools.
The program took a hit this school year, when RCPS began charging students $50 each to cover costs of the program instead of eliminating it altogether.
More than 2,000 elementary and middle school students were invited to the camps this semester.
Students in the Hawaiian class learned the hula dance and plan to have a luau this week; they also are making white chocolate macadamia nut cookies and banana bread from scratch. Third-graders studied a colder culture in Alaska by creating igloos and learning about the state's wildlife and residents' daily lives.
Fourth-graders learned about tropical cultures like Southeast Asia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines through art, science and cooking. And fifth-graders are learning about measuring the circumference of pies, fabrics for tie blankets and ingredients for ice cream.
"It models the common core (Georgia Performance Standards) with more critical thinking and a hands-on approach," Alvarez said.
RCPS teachers in the gifted endorsement cohort assisted camp teachers this week to earn professional learning hours.
"The projects and ideas are wonderful" said Hillary Simpson, a fifth-grade math teacher at Sims Elementary School, who plans to take activities back to her students during the school year.
Middle school students had a mock crime scene in the Crime Scene Investigation and learned about Mexican, North African and Japanese food in Cooking Up Culture.
"They've tried everything, and they really seem to enjoy it," said Travis Jones, who is leading the cooking class. "We have a lot of repeat students this time."
The next Enrichment Camp will be offered over the summer break.