HAVERHILL — While many children in the city’s schools will sleep in during their February and April school holidays, some of their peers will attend “holiday academies.”
The Title I program is Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., on February 17-21 and April 20-24. It is open to all Haverhill public school families with children in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Dianne Connolly, director of Title I and community outreach, said parents are drawn to the program for a variety of reasons. These include having childcare during a school holiday week, providing additional academic opportunities to their children, and having a place where their children can interact with others while building positive relationships with staff and peers.
Academics take center stage every day from 8.30am to 12.30pm, followed by lunch and then recreational activities from 1pm to 5.30pm
The morning program, led by Haverhill Public Schools staff, includes hands-on lessons in a variety of subjects. Every day there is a different theme, all designed by curriculum facilitators. Themes will be the same on every site, Connolly said.
Parents have the option to register their children for the morning program or the full-day program. Parents must provide round-trip transportation. Complimentary packed breakfasts and lunches are provided to families.
“We’re excited to expand our sites to four this year,” said Connolly, noting that the programs will run at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Haverhill, the YWCA, the YMCA and at Pentucket Lake Elementary School, where the YMCA has a before and after school program for kids.
Tracy Fuller, executive director of the Haverhill and Plaistow YMCAs, said last year that her organization hosted the program at the YMCA on Winter Street.
“The kids really enjoyed it and some were excited to see their own teacher,” she said. “They enjoyed the activities, which were fun and engaging, and it was almost as if they didn’t realize they were learning. It was also an opportunity for our own after-school staff to learn different ways to provide academics.”
Connolly said children don’t have to be members of those organizations to participate in these programs.
By Monday, 323 children had signed up for the February program, Connolly said, which is about double last year’s enrollment of 167 students when the program was introduced. The registration for the April holiday program has not yet been announced.
“It shows that parents are looking for options and that our community partners are willing to help,” she said.
Also on Monday, 34 employees had signed up to participate in the February program, compared to 17 last year.
There are still some vacancies at certain levels and parents are asked to contact the site that interests them.