Recreation, Enrichment Programs Replace Summer School

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, July 6, 2009

Inside one of the gyms at Luther Burbank High School in South Sacramento, about a dozen young teenagers are on the basketball court, lined up at the free-throw line. They’re shooting some hoops, playing a basketball game called “Knockout.” 

“If the person behind you makes a free-throw before you do, then you’re out.” 

Darius Branner is a 22-year-old college student who heads up the recreation and enrichment program here. He says when you’re dealing with 11-to-14-year-olds it’s always smart to start the day with some cardio. 

“Oh yeah it’s a good way to get energy up, exercise going, as well as it’s a fun game.” 

Luther Burbank is one of 18 sites where Sac City Unified is offering these recreation and enrichment programs for elementary and middle school students…students whose summer school programs were canceled.

Branner says although recreation is a big part of the kids’ day, they do more than just play. 

“We have a cooking aspect where we just show them culturally diverse dishes. Break dancing is another enrichment program. We have Hmong heritage dancing as well as arts and crafts.” 

They also put on plays and even take field trips…but no reading and arithmetic. Marcus Walton is a spokesman for the district. 

“It’s not an academic focus per say. That was the role of summer school.” 

Walton says state budget cuts forced the district to cut two-Million dollars from its summer school programs at elementary and middle schools for the next two years. 

“Once we found out that summer school would not be an option, we turned to our community partners which include the City of Sacramento and asked them to partner with us to present summer opportunities for students.” 

Opportunities that include exposure to arts and culture – things that Darius Branner says these kids don’t have during the regular school year.
“Normally, they wouldn’t see things like this. That’s what we try to do to expand their horizons and give them a little more of a view than they normally get to see.” 

The recreation and enrichment programs run through the end of July.