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School’s (not) Out for Summer [Kids Today / USA Today]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Kids Today / USA Today
Cover story
July 16, 1995

While most kids are spending their summer at the beach, at camp, or just hanging out, some kids are already back in school. That’s because they go to a year-round school.

Like all American kids attending public school, students on the year-round schedule go to school 180 days a year. But instead of having a three-month summer break, they are in class for 45 days at a time, with three 15-day breaks. Most year-round schools start in early August.

“It’s really great,” says Jessica Wall, an eighth-grader on the year-round plan at West Lake Middle School in Apex, N.C. “My friends who are on the regular schedule tease me about it, but I think it’s better because I don’t get burned out. There is always a break to look forward to. And, I am getting better grades (straight As!) because there is less time to forget what I’ve learned.”

Lots of teachers and parents appreciate Jessica’s success story, which is why the concept of year-round school is booming.

Today, more than a million and a half kids at 2,214 schools are on a year-round schedule—that’s a 363% increase from just 10 years ago. Education experts predict that by the year 2000, more than 2 million students will be on a year-round calendar.

The traditional nine-month school year was established more than 100 years ago when many kids lived on farms. They needed to be home early during summers when crops were harvested and planted. A lot fewer kids live on farms now, so in the late 1960s, some schools in California began the new year-round calendar.

Kids say the worst thing about the plan is that it’s hard to get used to—especially if you are on a year-round schedule at your school and your brother or sister go to a different school and have a different schedule.

“The year-round schedule changes the way families do things,” says Don Jeffries of the National Association for Year-Round Education. “But people adapt. Families take shorter vacations. Day-care centers and camps offer their services on the new schedule. It all works out.”

The bottom line, though, he said is that kids learn more on a year-round schedule. “And that’s what is really important.”

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"I get by with a little help from my friends," says Hope, who gives special thanks to:

• MICHAEL GIBBS, website illustration and design: www.michaelgibbs.com
• MAX KUKOY, website development: www.maxwebworks.com
• STEVE BARRETT, portrait of Hope on Bio page: www.stevebarrettphotography.com

Contact HOPE KATZ GIBBS by phone [703-346-6975] or email.

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