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Boro students lukewarm over summer school

Students at John Adams High School in Ozone Park had mixed reviews of this year’s summer school program, coordinated by the city Department of Education.

Peter Arias, sitting in his car last week waiting to go into the school at 101-01 Rockaway Blvd., and his friend Angie Reyes said the summer heat has made it difficult to concentrate and focus on learning. The pair said the lack of air conditioning in the classrooms does not make summer classes such as English, gym, science and math particularly attractive.

“Why should we be here when we can be at the beach?” Arias, 16, asked. “It’s too hot.”

Arias and Reyes were not alone, however, in not wanting to go to summer school.

Citywide, the attendance rate for summer school is only 59.5 percent as of July 15, a Department of Education spokesman said. That number is down from 61.6 percent last year, he said.

The one-term summer session lasts from July 7 through Aug. 15, according to the Department of Education’s Web site.

The spokesman said the city Department of Education blames the low attendance rate for summer school on parents being unaware of the program.

“The department is conducting a number of outreach efforts to inform children and parents about summer school and improve student attendance during the current session,” the Department of Education said in a statement. “Due to the structure of this year’s program, we are not engaging in the type of publicity campaigns conducted over the past few summers; moreover, the chancellor has asked that the department review its entire summer school program.”

The Education Department said it will be working to determine early in the next school year which students are struggling and then provide them with necessary support before the school year ends.

Department of Education officials reinstated the free school lunch program, originally suspended for summer, partly to attract more students to attend summer school after attendance rates lagged sharply.

Summer school programs citywide target students in grades three through 12. Students attend to either meet standards to move from grade to grade or to earn the credits to graduate from high school.

Arias and Reyes were just two of the hundreds of students standing outside John Adams High School. But their complaints about the heat inside classrooms were offset by praise from one student who said she is glad to have the opportunity to earn extra credits so she can take fewer classes her senior year.

“The more classes you take now, the less you have to take later,” said 15-year-old Kamilah Cee. “It’s all right here.”

Cee, a resident of Ozone Park who is taking gym, said she is using the summer session to ensure her future success.

“I am just trying to get out of high school,” she said. “I do not want to have to do it next year, so I am doing it this year.”

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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