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franklin county times

T.R.A.C.K.S. program underway

Students in the T.R.A.C.K.S. program at Tharptown work in the computer lab Friday morning.

Summer fun and learning are already underway with the Franklin County and Russellville City T.R.A.C.K.S. programs that are being offered at four different sites this summer.
T.R.A.C.K.S. programs at Phil Campbell, Red Bay and Tharptown schools began Monday and will last through Aug. 3. The program at Russellville’s West Elementary will start June 4 and last through July 27.
T.R.A.C.K.S. programs are offered at each site from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, but a child can be dropped off and picked up at any point during that time frame depending on the parents’ convenience. The programs are for children ages five to 12. Four year olds will be allowed to attend if they have previously attended a pre-k program.
Sue Entrekin, who serves as the prevention programs coordinator for Community Education, said the fun and interactive T.R.A.CK.S. summer learning programs are the perfect solution to many problems parents face during the summer break.
“Summer is always a great time for children, but parents are often faced with the task of finding reliable childcare during the hours their child would have normally been at school,” Entrekin said. “Babysitters aren’t always available at the right times or for weeks on end, so becoming part of a T.R.A.CK.S. program is a great solution.”
According to Entrekin, at least 11 percent of children between the ages of six and 12 are left to care for themselves during the summer break because they have parents who work and cannot afford to stay at home with them.
“Enrolling your child in a T.R.A.CK.S. program this summer will ensure that your child is learning and having fun in a safe, supervised environment,” Entrekin said. “Parents won’t have to worry about their child getting into trouble or getting hurt while they are at work. They can know that their child is learning things that will help them have a better school year starting in August and that will keep them entertained during the week.”
Even though the T.R.A.CK.S. programs are offered throughout the week to assist full-time working parents, part-time attendance on a two- or three-day basis is available as space allows for children of stay-at-home parents who just want to make sure their child is involved in enrichment activities that will help them retain the material they have learned in the previous school year.
“T.R.A.CK.S. programs can help prevent the loss of academic skills over the long summer break,” Entrekin said. “Cynthia Scott will be traveling to each site to work on reading enrichment with the students. They will also work with computer software that increases their math and reading skills while also working on their computer skills.”
In addition to the basic programming offered, each site will have specific activities they will participate in throughout the summer.
“Since West Elementary is close to the city pool, these students will be getting outdoor time and exercise by visiting the pool three days a week,” she said. “At Red Bay, they are participating in the library’s reading program and Phil Campbell is having weekly themes from around the world where they have guest speakers and learn about different countries.”
Entrekin said the sites also incorporate field trips that make the educational elements fun as well.
“With the Phil Campbell students learning about different places in the world, they will take a field trip to see the movie ‘Madagascar’ and then discuss the country,” Entrekin said. “We make the programs as interactive as we can so we can make sure the kids are getting fun, learning, fitness and health education all in one.”
As an added bonus, a few camps will be available to T.R.A.CK.S. students or any other age-appropriate children who wish to only participate in the camps and not the program as a whole.
A 4-H camp will be taught by Katerina Cole, the Alabama Cooperative Extension Office coordinator for Franklin County, on June 26 – 27 and July 10 – 11 from 9 a.m. until noon.
On those same days, local artist Shawn Wallace will teach an art instruction camp from 12:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. at the Belgreen campus. The cost for the camps is $5 per camp or $10 for the entire day.
“These camps are a great way to get our students exposed to different things that might be of interest to them,” Entrekin said, “especially since they aren’t getting any other kind of art instruction or exposure.
“With budget cuts and funding issues, programs in the arts are usually the first thing to go. Mr. Wallace is a very talented artist so these camps won’t just be a basic little arts and crafts class. These students will learn real skills that might get them interested in the arts. And studies have shown that the arts broaden a student’s horizon and can actually help keep them interested in school.”
Entrekin said the T.R.A.C.K.S. programs are available to any student in the appropriate age range that lives in Franklin County. Students from East Franklin, Belgreen and Vina schools are welcome to participate at any of the four sites even though a program isn’t directly available at their school.
Weekly fees for attending T.R.A.CK.S. full-time are based on the Child Nutrition lunch rates. For students who pay full price for school lunches, the weekly rate will be $65. Reduced lunch students pay $55 and free lunch students pay $45. For each additional child in the family who attends the program, the rates are reduced by $10 for each category.
Students who only participate part-time will pay $35 for two days and $45 for three days.
Franklin County Community Education is still accepting registration forms, which can be picked up at the Community Education office in Belgreen or printed of the Franklin County Schools website at www.franklin.k12.al.us under the Community Education tab. Entrekin said parents can also enroll their child directly at one of the site locations. Registration fee is $20.
For more information about the T.R.A.CK.S. summer programs, the camps or for questions about enrollment, call 256-331-0005.