Playtime: Coming this summer — music school, STEM camp, Jump Start

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Robotics are among the activities at Middle School STEM Camp. (Photos courtesy Edmonds School District)

As a sure sign of summer on deck, we’ve reached the point of the school year where we’re counting the total number of days left — I count 21 1/2 days with the final day of school being a half day on June 26.

Another sign is that the Hazel Miller Spray Park at City Park in Edmonds is officially open for the season, which lasts until it’s time to go back to school. The water is going at the park from 10 a.m to 8 p.m. daily. It will have been open for just over a month by the time kids get out of school.

It is hard enough to stay in gear for upcoming book reports and “Backwards Day” (which I didn’t know about again this year,) with summer camps and no book reports on the horizon, but the added days are making it even harder over here. Though many summer options for kids have been full since March, the Edmonds School District still has some great options available, especially for middle school-age students.

I’ve found that it’s helpful to follow the Edmonds School District social media accounts. They have information about upcoming schedule changes and district events. This week, they posted on Facebook about registration being open for a “a collection of summer learning opportunities.” Upon further investigation, it also came in one of the district emails that I seem to have ignored. Of the four items the district mentioned — Secondary Summer School through Edmonds eLearning Academy, Summer Music School, Middle School STEM Camp and Kindergarten Jump Start — our family has had great experiences with three of them.

Here is information on all four:

Secondary Summer School through Edmonds eLearning Academy, for students in 9th to 12th grades, is an online and on-location fee-based program with course option for credit retrieval, skill remediation, and new learning July 1 – July 30.

The Edmonds eLearning Academy will be open for walk-ins at College Place Middle School to answer questions and help with registration and payments on June 26, from noon  to 4 p.m. and June 27 from 8 a.m. to noon. The Student Learning Center will be open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. – 1:50 p.m. — also at College Place Middle — during the month of July. While we haven’t done Secondary Summer School, we ended up needing to utilize eLearning this year and I can’t say enough good things about them. The office was helpful, the teachers were great, and even though I would have guessed otherwise, my oldest was able to successfully learn the subject he took online. You can find more information in the Secondary Summer School brochure, including the schedule for transportation. You can also call 425-431-1565 or email at [email protected].

Summer Music School campers march in the Edmonds Kind of 4th of July parade.

Edmonds School District Summer Music School is held at Mountlake Terrace High School from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 1-19 and there is still time to sign up. Approximately 200 students and 25 high school mentors are involved in this program, which offers a diverse mix of music performance and exploratory opportunities for students entering 6th through 12th grade. (One year of instrumental experience in band or orchestra is required.) Students march in An Edmonds Kind of 4th parade and perform a concert at the end of camp, plus there are different themed camp days (crazy hats, etc.) and they take a day off to go bowling too .

Campers choose from a fun list of electives like jazz band, steel drums, ukulele, Korean drumming and marimba ensembles, and each student participates in the parade and the camp-wide choir. I am constantly recommending this camp to friends; it’s such a nice to way to try new things with kids who like a lot of the same things you do. You can register for Summer Music School on the InTouch website, the same place you can buy P.E. clothes and yearbooks. You can also access registration and get more information on the District’s Summer Music School page.

Middle School STEM Camp is also held at Mountlake Terrace High School. This three-day camp is for incoming 7th and 8th graders to explore STEM activities and check out the STEM Program. The camp is held Aug. 20-22, a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with two session options. The morning session is 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or the afternoon session from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Camp includes CAD and laser cutting, robotics, an egg drop challenge, and biotechnology and chemistry activities. My son did this camp as he was heading into middle school and it was a great option. It was good to be around other incoming middle schoolers and it also served as a baby step to going back to school after summer. As a parent, it was a nice look into my student’s interest in the STEM program at MTHS. They also have an info night during the school year that you can attend even if your child isn’t going to high school the following year. You can also register for Middle School STEM Camp on the district’s InTouch website and you can get more information on the camp’s online brochure.

The one thing on this list that my kid’s didn’t have as an option is Kindergarten Jump Start. All K-6 schools will be offering this option for incoming kindergarteners from Aug. 19-22 from 9 a.m. to noon. The focus of this program is on preparing your child for success in kindergarten — familiarizing your child with the school environment, the kindergarten teachers and the daily schedule. Students will be involved in typical kindergarten classroom activities, tour the school campus, and experience outdoor play just like they will at recess — without their parents. Students must be registered — the district information uses all caps for that — before attending the Jump Start days. Transportation is not provided for the program and parents will be asked to attend an orientation during the program.

To register for the Kindergarten Jump Start program and get information on the date of your orientation, you can contact the school your kindergartener will attend. If you need to find your home school or register for kindergarten, you can visit the District’s website. If you can’t find what you need for any other these events online, you can always call the district at 425-431-7000.Noting that “being a middle schooler in the summer can be hard,”  the Meadowdale Middle Parent Club partnered with their Student Advisory team to offer the first annual “Kick Off to Summer” Activity Fair Saturday, June 1 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Meadowdale Middle School field for middle schoolers from any school.

The parent club adds that middle schoolers are often “too old for most camps, but too young to work” and “there can be a lot of idle time that gets filled with video games, social media, and other activities that may not be the most ideal.” The club would like to help these students “consider other options.” Those who attend the fair can learn about the different activities and camps available in our area.

This is really an incredible resource, as we also found it tricky as we made the transition from elementary to middle school summer options. Even though some options have been available since early spring, I’ve found the middle school-age camps have a little more leeway for later registration. For more information you can visit the Kick Off to Summer Facebook Events page.

— By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx, an Edmonds mom of two boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time.

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