For about 300 Forsyth County students, summer break ends a week after it began.
Summer school begins Monday. With new options this year, however, taking classes over the summer may not be as bleak of a prospect as some teenagers fear.
“The programs have been very, very successful,” said Nita Giddish, the school system’s curriculum coordinator. “We’ve been proud of what our teachers have been able to do. And so far, parents and students have been very pleased with what we’ve been able to offer.”
Those offerings feature three programs, including the system’s new iAchieve Virtual Academy, where students can take courses online for full credit. It’s the first time the academy has been offered for summer school, Giddish said.
“It’s an option for students who work well in that environment and don’t have the transportation, or they’re working full time or they’ve got other things in their schedule,” she said.
“We also have some students who travel, such as some who are going to stay with their other parent during the summer.”
The main summer school is through the Academy@Night, which offers a range of courses in math, science, social studies and literature. As the name suggests, courses are offered only in the evenings, from 4:45 to 6:30 p.m. or from 6:45 to 8:30 p.m.
But that’s the preference, said Brad Smith, principal of the Academies of Creative Education.
“A couple years ago, we tried offering it during the day as well,” he said. “Well over the majority of people requested the evening sessions, so we kind of just did away with the day and … nobody has complained.”
Smith is overseeing both the iAchieve and Academy@Night summer programs, both of which use online curriculums. The difference, he said, is iAchieve students don’t have to be in the classroom.
Academy@Night classes “use a certified teacher right there in the classroom. So if they happen to have issues or problems, they can raise their hand and their teacher can help them in a one-on-one situation,” Smith said.
For the 50 students enrolled in iAchieve, the classroom could be in Europe, a Caribbean island or at home.
“Anywhere they happen to be in the world that has Internet access, they can access their courses and work on the course while they’re on vacation,” Smith said.
The third program is the summer Math Academy. As with the other two, the per-course cost is $300, but this program is not for students looking to get ahead, Giddish said.
The 120 students enrolled in the Math Academy are there because they did not pass the course the first time. The program is rigorous.
Where the Academy@Night is two days a week for less than two hours, the Math Academy is four weeks of four-hour days and four-day weeks.
“It is 16 hours a week just working on that one math course,” Giddish said. “And the Math Academy is for recovery only. It is not for initial credit.
“The students have been very successful though. We’ve had very good results, not only in being successful in the course, but achieving higher scores on the end-of-course test and being better prepared for the next level math.”
Of all the summer school students, about 15 percent are there to get ahead, Giddish said. There are also some who were just shy of graduating this past week.
“There are some seniors that registered for summer classes that did not participate in the graduation ceremony, but they will receive their diplomas at the end of summer school,” she said. “Very few, but there were some.”
Summer school will end June 28 for Math Academy students and by July 20 for all other students. That leaves about three weeks of vacation until the 2012-13 school year begins Aug. 9.