From hands-on classroom activities to taking fun and educational trips to Myrtle Beach, Blazing Stars Academy offers a lot to local students in the early summer.
The federally-funded program, hosted by Sunset Avenue School, provides additional education enrichment opportunities from schools in Clinton. During the school year, more than 250 students are served at three sites — L.C. Kerr, Butler Avenue and Sunset Avenue. When summer comes, services are provided at one school. Through Clinton City Schools (CCS), Blazing Stars Academy, a 21st Century Community Learning Center, serves 80 elementary students. During the program, some of the highlights include hands-on projects based in reading, math and Spanish, integration of arts and technology in instruction.
Antoine McGill, principal of Sunset Avenue School, said the program has been successful for students when it comes to enrichment and opportunities.
“One of the unique things about it is that our teachers are able to assign work to the students,” McGill said. “However through the use of technology with applications and computer-based programs, teachers are able to determine students’ specific areas and target learning goals.”
Also, McGill said the program is good about following up with remediation after school.
When it comes to the enrichment aspect, participants are able to go on various field trips during the summer.
“The kids find them very beneficial,” McGill said about the group. “Without these opportunities, they would probably be never get to do trips.”
Some of the big ones mentioned by McGill included WonderWorks in Myrtle Beach and DefyGravity in Raleigh. A few of the others include East Park Cinema and Aloha Safari Zoo in Cameron.
“It’s just a great opportunity for kids, not only academically, but socially,” McGill said.
Under the leadership of Shirley Williams, CCS coordinator of student services and federal programs, 14 teachers and seven high school students are leading activities for the two week summer program. Some of the activities include STEM instruction provided by Mad Science in Raleigh; the NC Traveling Aquarium from Wilmington; and Zumba instruction from Catina Autry.
Sandra Starling, a reading teacher for first- and second-graders said it’s a great resource for students involved during the school year. Her daughter, Anna, is one of several high school students who assist during the summer. Starling, a fourth-year participant, said a lot of students miss the program when it’s over.
“They’re ready for whatever they think the summer is about when they get home from school,” Starling said. “But in the fall, they’ll say I miss Blazing Stars, so that a good thing. You know you’re doing something right when the kids tell you that they’ll miss Blazing Stars.”
Deirdre Moore, interim director of Blazing Stars, believes the program provides excellent experiences for children to learn and develop many skills. Some of them include physical activity, creative self-expression and positive social interactions.
“In today’s pressure-oriented society, the program provides a non-threatening environment for our youth to be active, to develop competence in life skills, to learn about and enhance their own abilities and to benefit from meaningful participation in a community designed just for them,” Moore stated. “Our program takes the classroom beyond the school doors allowing the students to experience trips and unique hands-on enrichment they may not have the opportunity to have otherwise.”
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