Students continue to flock to school over breaks

Faith Johnson, a fourth-grader at Pine Street Elementary School, makes a tornado in a bottle during the Freaks of Nature class at the Winter Enrichment Camp on Wednesday. Staff Photos: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith

Faith Johnson, a fourth-grader at Pine Street Elementary School, makes a tornado in a bottle during the Freaks of Nature class at the Winter Enrichment Camp on Wednesday. Staff Photos: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith


Middle School students in the Cooking Up Culture class at Enrichment Camp were busy making pizza and a traditional butter cake on Wednesday. Pictured, from left, are Nailah Clarington, a sixth-grader at Davis Middle School; Adriana West, a seventh-grader from Memorial Middle School; and Julia Nnoko, a seventh-grader from Conyers Middle School, measuring some flour for the cakes.

CONYERS — School is out for most students and teachers in Rockdale County this week, but some students are continuing to learn over the winter break.

Nearly 150 elementary and middle school students in second through eighth grades are attending the Winter Enrichment Camp this week at the Rockdale Career Academy.

“It continues to be well-attended,” said Alex Alvarez, Academic Rigor coordinator for RCPS. “Parents are already asking about summer.”

The camps are generally held over extended breaks throughout the school year and summer for students who are demonstrating high levels of academic achievement. Registration fees are $50.

Earlier this year, RCPS invited 1,386 elementary students and 944 middle school students to the winter camp.

“I love to learn new things all the time, so this is fun to me,” said fourth-grader Brittany Young, who attends C.J. Hicks Elementary School.

She plans to teach her fellow students at C.J. Hicks what she learned in the Freaks of Nature class this week upon her return to school after the break.

Her class this week combined art and science to explore weather anomalies and climate and to study weather patterns of tornadoes and hurricanes. They also are using technology to create videos of mock meteorology reports.

Also at the camp, second-graders are studying the Hawaiian Luau through art and culture. They are learning about traditions, making food like pineapple upside down cupcakes and white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, creating art, taking hula dancing lessons, singing traditional Hawaiian folk songs and speaking the language of Hawaii. They will hold a luau-style dessert celebration on the final day of class today.

Third-graders are learning about the Polar Adventure by exploring polar wildlife while making a penguin and a whale, learning about native Alaskan customs and creating an igloo.

Fifth-graders are attending a class called WOW! World of Wonder. In it, they will conduct hands-on science experiments and learn technology facts.

Alvarez said the fifth-grade science class and one of the middle school classes, STEM Quest, are focusing on science, technology, engineering and math. RCPS is developing elementary science-focused programs to feed into a Memorial Middle School science program that eventually may feed into the current Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology program.

He said students and parents have been interested in the science programs, so teachers are exposing students to different fields so they are prepared for the programs in the schools.

At the camp, another group of middle schoolers attends the class Cooking Up Culture, in which they learn how to make and eat exotic foods.

The class, taught by Travis Jones, has been regularly offered to middle school students over the years at Enrichment Camp and is well-attended. Many of the students in the class have attended it before, and past students have gone on to the culinary arts program at RCA, Jones said.

“(Cooking) helps you in the future with your family,” said Cody Barber, a sixth-grader from Conyers Middle School, who said he likes to cook, especially pancakes and other breakfast foods.

Alvarez said the system plans to hold two Enrichment Camp sessions in June, like last summer. Invitation letters will be sent out to students later this year.


maryinga 2 years, 9 months ago

That's great....for the "high levels of academic achievement" students. What about the students that need that extra helpo in reading, math or science? Oh yeah, hold them back again.


Elmo 2 years, 9 months ago

I think that this type of extra effort is exactly WHY these students are "exceptional".

Tutors and teachers alone cannot make a student "exceptional", it takes parenting and installing the desire to learn and excel into children.

I wasn't a big fan of school, but I never missed a grade as I knew what fate would await me at home.

It doesn't "take a village", it takes parents worth their salt; parents who bother to take an interest in their child's education past the point of just sending them off to school each day, as the law requires.

If parents are disinterested in, and detached from, their child's education, why expect the children to be?


diamonddodge9 2 years, 9 months ago

They offer tutoring for ALL students year round. They are even providing transportation home for the afterschool tutoring. Do you even have a child in Rockdale county schools?


maryinga 2 years, 9 months ago

I had 2 children in Rockdale county schools. I made sure that they did their homework and read everynight. I was one of those parents that worked with their child and kept up as to what was going on. They may offer tutoring to students now. That I don't know. They did back then.
Not trying to be mean, just wondering about the kids that do need help.


MsKito 2 years, 9 months ago

Absolutely -- if a student is not academically ready to go to the next grade, then hold them back.

And students who are high achievers should be lauded and allowed to participate in special sessions just for them -- it is a reward and an incentive.


CmacConcerned 2 years, 9 months ago

Maryinga - throughout the school year there are several programs provided for students who are struggling. There are tutorial sessions after school, students in elementary and middle school are taken out of their specials and connections classes to take additional classes, in high school students receive help through support classes and tutorials in all areas of the graduation tests. All of these opportunities are offered FREE for the students. What do the upper level students receive? Very little. This camp is a great way for these upper level students to actually be challenged. I applaud RCPS for providing this camp, though they should extend the same COST FREE privilege that those who are struggling receive. As far as the students who need extra help - they receive it from every school - check it out and see what your child's school does (or your zoned school does, if you do not have children in the system anymore).


NitetimeinDaytime 2 years, 9 months ago

@CMAC, I was with you until you said there should be a cost free alternative. I like the fact that you not only have to pay for the camp, but provide transportation to and from RCA. $50 may seem like a lot to someone who does not have a lot of money, however we also need to make sure as parents that we make the sacrifices we need to in order for our children to experience more than the day-to-day educational experience.


NitetimeinDaytime 2 years, 9 months ago

oh....and "cost free" to the parent means that money has got to come from somewhere and I want my tax dollars to stay in the classroom where they belong.


maryinga 2 years, 9 months ago

My children have graduated. I am concerned for the kids who need help. Education is very important. I told my children that when they get that diploma handed to them it's one thing they will never forget.


NitetimeinDaytime 2 years, 9 months ago

This is a great way for the students to break from the normal curriculum and continue to learn. Love it.


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