by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — For students, summer time is when the livin’ is easy — which is not always a good thing.
Why? Because those hard-earned skills learned during the school year can evaporate faster than a Slurpy dropped on a sizzling July sidewalk.
“Students can regress over the summer if they don’t practice the skills they learned,” said Karla Leibham, archdiocesan associate superintendent.
And then there is that age-old question of what to do with the kids while mom and dad are at work.
Cathy Fithian, principal at Christ the King School in Kansas City, Kan., has provided the answer. She applied for, and received, a $15,000 Cor Christi grant (formerly the Providence-St. Margaret Fund, administered by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas) to establish a summer school-day care program at Christ the King. Parents pay a fee of $100 a month, or $25 a week, which is affordable for the program provided, said Fithian.
“I’m pleased that Christ the King School is being resourceful in finding additional ways to serve their students,” said Leibham.
Some archdiocesan schools have summer enrichment programs, but this is the only Catholic summer school at least in Wyandotte County, said Fithian. She established it because she saw a need.
“Academic needs coupled with family needs led me to write a grant for this program,” said Fithian. “I felt that we need to keep our minds active during summer, but parents also need a daycare program they feel comfortable about.”
The Christ the King summer school will run from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, June 9 to July 31. Four teachers and two administrators will staff the program. The students are grouped according to their ages and skill levels.
The hours are divided into academic and day care components. The first four hours are spent on academics, specifically reading and math. The remainder of the day — or the daycare hours — is spent on summer activities like swimming and field trips.
In its first year, as a pilot program, the summer school can only accommodate 50 students. Demand was strong, and some families had to be turned away when the program was full.
“I was surprised by the amount of interest parents had in our program,” said Fithian. “This just confirms that there is a need for our families. They don’t want their kids to simply stay at home. They want their children to be in an active environment.”
Some of the students will be new to the school this fall, so their participation in the summer school program gives them a chance to get to know the school, some teachers, and other students, said Fithian. This is something that makes both the students and the parents feel better.
Fithian hopes that the program will continue in coming years, but that is only possible if she can get additional funding.