Kids prove they’re rising S.T.A.R.S

By Heather Pagni

Instead of wasting away their summer in front of TV, many middle school students in the Kyrene district are pushing for success by enrolling in the S.T.A.R. program.

S.T.A.R.--Success through Academic Reform--is a four-week summer program that helps students who have struggled academically, socially or emotionally in the past school year.

For seven years, the S.T.A.R. program has improved the lives of children through communication arts, mathematics, team building, study and organizational strategies, character building activities, and team discussions.

Cara English, S.T.A.R. site administrator, said it is a chance to help students build positive skills for their future.

“It provides opportunities for students to become more aware of the ways that their behaviors and thoughts are preventing them from being successful as a student,” English said.

A typical day at the S.T.A.R program includes an hour of math and an hour of language arts every day.

An hour in the morning and afternoon is set aside for group initiatives, where they use Project Adventure games to promote team learning. They end each day with a presentation and discussion on a specific topic, like organizational skills, goal setting, time management or problem solving.

In the final week, students go on a field trip to Mayer, near Prescott, where they test the skills they’ve learned at the YMCA Chauncey Ranch Ropes Course.

Students receive certificates for completion of the program at a graduation ceremony.

“S.T.A.R. Graduates are typically more confident, more connected to school more positive in their relationships with peers and adults, and feel better about the coming school year,” English said.

During the next academic school year, each S.T.A.R. student will be mentored by a prevention supervisor at each middle school.

S.T.A.R. is designed for students entering seventh, eighth and ninth grades. The program is held at Aprende Middle School and Altadena Middle School each summer from June 6 through 30. Students attend from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., with a 40-minute lunch period and short breaks throughout the day.

Registration for the S.T.A.R. program begins in April of every year. Tuition is $149 and scholarships are available.