School year’s end mark start of Summer Adventures

School year's end mark start of Summer Adventures by David Lias The doors of Vermillion's schools may have closed for the summer Friday, but components of a popular after school program will continue through the summer.

A cooperative agreement between Beyond School Adventures and the Vucurevich Children's Center at The University of South Dakota ensures that youth will be exposed to a variety of educational and recreational activities in the coming months through a new program titled Summer Adventures.

"It was a perfect match for us to work cooperatively," said Laura Allen, program coordinator of Beyond School Adventures, of the agreement forged with the Vucurevich Children's Center. "We've been very excited because this is a unique opportunity for two separate locations to get together and work together. It's beneficial for both of us and for the children as well."

Allen said participating youth will experience fulfilling days, because of the variety of activities offered by the two locations.

Beyond School Adventures was implemented in the school district's elementary and middle schools last year thanks to a grant written by Ginnie Talley and and Kathy Prasek.

The funding helped implement a very successful after

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school program.

"Part of the plan was to have a four hour summer program," Allen said. "Because parents were looking for full time care during the day, and we weren't able to offer a full day program due to staff availability, staffing, and not being able to provide a meal, our hands were tied."

By joining forces, Beyond School Adventures and the Vucurevich Center will offer a wide range of programs to youth age 6 to 12.

The program will begin May 28 and conclude July 31. Each day's activities will begin at 7 a.m. and end at 5:30 p.m.

Each morning will begin with breakfast at the children's center. Activities will then shift to the middle school, where youth will participate in sports and games, arts and crafts and computer fun.

The participants will change into swimsuits at noon, and travel to the children's center for lunch.

Afternoon activities will focus on having fun at Vermillion's swimming pool. During days of bad weather, youth will visit the public library or movie theatre.

Each day will conclude at the Vucurevich Center with outside play or board games.

Many special events are also planned during the summer. Drama teacher Mary Begley will be assisting students in a theatrical production that parents can attend on June 14.

And, at least once week, between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m., youth will take field trips for new experiences, including an archaeological dig, visits to a farm, a petting zoo and the Shrine to Music Museum, and hikes to Spirit Mound.

Trips to the Washington Pavilion, Sioux Falls, and the W.H. Over Museum in Vermillion are also planned.

"We traditionally have a program in the summer for school age children," said Merle Eintracht of the Vucurevich Center. "So we will just continue what we have done in the past in the afternoon."

Eintracht said a significant component of the summer program is the community's efforts to make sure the activities are available to youth.

"There is a cooperative agreement between Beyond School Adventures and the Vucurevich Children's Center," she said. "Southeast Transit is going to be partnered with us. They are going to help by transporting the children for us.

"What's exciting is we will act as a community rather than as individual entities," Eintracht said. "Part of our mission was to up the quality of what was being provided to Vermillion children, so that there would be some quality options for parents of school-aged children."

The goal, she said, is to provide children valuable experiences in trusted environments.

Children may either attend the morning session from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., or the afternoon session from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m., or both.

Fees for the program, including meals, Beyond School Adventures and rides, are $13.50 for a half day and $27 for a full day.

Eintracht estimates that up to 30 children could be enrolled by the end of this week. The maximum number of children who can participate is 40.

"There are a lot of very talented people in town with concerns and interests regarding the well-being of little children," she said, "and I'm very, very excited that we finally found a way to do it as an adult community."

Helping to make Summer Adventures possible are these community partners: Clay County Child Protection Team, Hy-Vee, Jones' Food Center, Native American Center, Pamida, Plain Talk, Second Harvest Food Bank, S.D. Arts Council, Southeast Transit, Sioux Valley Children's Hospital, The University of South Dakota, United Way, Vermillion Civic Council, Vermillion Parks and Recreation, Vermillion Public Library and the Vermillion School District.

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