Independence summer school, although challenging, proves to be popular

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Summer school is going to be different this year for kids in the Independence School District. More challenging course work is replacing campy activities.

Nearly 8,000 children are enrolled in the rigorous summer program. It’s one of the largest summer sessions in Missouri.   But instead of paying an outside company to offer enrichment classes and fun camps, Independence teachers are in the classrooms concentrating on the basics: Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. The idea is to cut learning loss that happens during summer break and prepare children for the next grade level, so they will have a head start in the fall.

Students told FOX 4 News they are excited for the challenge.

“In summer school I plan on doing a lot of reading and writing,” said Aubrey Weixeleorfer, 11, who will be a 6th grader in the fall.

Summer classes are offered at no cost to parents. The district pays about the same as they did to hire a private firm for summer programs.

The increased focus on academics has students using technology every day tied directly to the school district’s curriculum. It includes science, social studies and an emphasis on literacy for kids who are easily distracted in the summertime.

“The academic rigor has picked up from what was expected previously,” said Dale Herl, school superintendent. “We think we will see great results when kids come back in the fall.”

There was some concern that more challenging classes would prevent some kids from enrolling in summer school. But the superintendent says Independence has more students signed up for summer classes than ever before, with 300 on a waiting list.

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