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Austin Harer, pre-third grade student, said summer school made him more prepared for the upcoming school year. Ann Rock, a third grade teacher as Westside Elementary School, is his summer school teacher at Rocky Branch Elementary School. Rebecca Rudolph photos

School year ends, students still flock to class

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For some, summer school rings bells for long days of punishment masked as education.

But that stereotype is old. In the River Falls school district, an array of fun, stimulating classes to build on a student’s education are now underway.

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“It’s a variety of opportunity for kids,” said Mike Johnson, school district director of academic services. “It’s not the typical summer school where you fail a class and boom you’re in.”

Various opportunities for students include: Frank Stell action sculptures class; wolves of North America; French; making books; batter up; and ooey-gooey chemistry.

The latter is a new class that Jane Hoffman, a second grade Westside teacher, devised this year.

Hoffman has taught summer school for 10 years. This year she has an enrichment course.

“They have so much fun and I have fun because they’re having fun,” she said. “You have an opportunity to take the curriculum a little further and expand upon the curriculum…and give the kids the opportunity to try a lot of hands on kinds of things.”

Hoffman’s chemistry class is one of the many ideas that summer school teachers have proposed to Maureen Hermsen, summer school secretary, said Johnson, the summer school organizer.

Teachers can submit enrichment summer school class ideas to Hermsen in January for her to sort through.

“Then I just take all the information together and organize things for summer school,” Hermsen said.

Johnson says this included putting together handouts, schedules and organizing maintenance staff and teachers.

“What I like best is being around the kids, because generally, I’m just in my office at central office; summer school is where I meet the children,” Hermsen said.

Last year, roughly 1,400 children were enrolled in summer school district wide, kindergarten to grade 12.

For the complete story, see the July 4 print edition of the River Falls journal.

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