Blazing with fun

Blazing Stars Academy students perform a line dance on the Henrietta III.

Alvin Antonio works with students during the summer session for the Blazing Stars Academy.

For a couple of weeks, Minnie Bryant enjoyed watching local children have new experiences and learning at the same time.

Blazing Stars Academy recently wrapped up its summer session, which included many activities for students.

“It gives the students the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities or things they may not be able to afford without Blazing Stars,” said Bryant, coordinator of the program.

It’s held at Clinton City School’s Butler Avenue School, L.C. Kerr School and Sunset Avenue School. For 2015, hundreds of students were served through the program.

During the two-week program, instructors help students with homework and Common Core subjects such as reading and math. There was also emphasis placed on the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Students in Blazing Stars also attended summer school at various locations in the district.

“They wanted to be a participant in Blazing Stars so much that after they went to the regular summer school for the EOG (End-of-Grade) test, they would come to us in the afternoons,” Bryant said.

Blazing Stars participants were assisted by certified teachers, high school students and volunteers. Currently, it serves grades 1-5. Students sign up for the program during registration for the regular school period.

“We try to be an extension of the regular school program,” she said.

Students were also engaged in activities called engineers, which involved Taekwondo, STEM related science experiments and dancing. Field trips were also a part of the Blazing Stars experience. The students boarded the Henrietta III and sailed down the Cape Fear River. Through the lessons of a tour guide, the students learned about the history of the river. The second trip was to the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro.

“They really enjoyed that,” Bryant said. “Before the field trips, we would do studies on the places we’ve visited. Most of this was done in the technology class. It was blended with all of our subject areas.”

Blazing Stars Academy is a 21st Century Community Learning Center and is funded through the U.S. Department of Education. The grant was made for 200 students, but this year, the district served 250.

“Clinton has been fortunate to have this program for a number of years,” Bryant said. “It’s been very beneficial to the students. We have a lot of parent support because part of our program is to have parent involvement. They are eager to participate.”

Bryant said one of the strong components of the program is getting help with homework.

“That helps them help their students,” she said. “Parents feel that they’re not knowledgeable to help with their homework, especially when they get to upper grades.”

Shirley Williams, coordinator of student services and federal programs, said a lot of students look forward to participating each year.

“We try to make learning fun with a lot of hands-on activities,” Williams said. “For the summer the students want to be with us.”