By EDWARD HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Summer vacation didn't last long for several hundred students in the Quincy School District.
The final day of the 2013-14 school year was last Monday, June 2. Three days later, summer school started for grades K-12.
"We didn't get that much time off, did we?" said Danielle Edgar, principal of Quincy High School.
QHS is offering a variety of educational opportunities for students in grades nine through 12 over the next four weeks -- some mandatory, some elective.
Mandatory classes, funded by a state grant, are being held for about 120 high school students who failed two or more "core" classes -- English, math, social studies or science. Those students must work on recovering their missed credits or risk falling further behind.
"It's absolutely vital for some of these kids, because this will potentially put them on track with their grade-level peers," Edgar said.
In addition, some QHS students are taking advantage of an optional credit-recovery class. This fee-based course uses an online service called Edgenuity. Edgar said some students use Edgenuity to recover a single credit, while others are voluntarily taking an extra course, such as consumer eduction, to free up room in their schedules next fall so they can take other elective courses.
QHS also offers driver's education during the summer. Edgar said 103 students are taking driver's ed classroom instruction, while about 80 others are getting behind-the-wheel instruction.
Elsewhere in Quincy, Summer Academy is being offered for 373 students in grades kindergarten through six at Baldwin Intermediate School, while Quincy Junior High School is offering summer school for grades seven and eight.
In recent years, Summer Academy was held at multiple locations. But this year, organizers decided to put all K-6 programs under one roof at Baldwin.
"It's nice that everybody is in one spot and all of our services are in one spot," said Julie Stratman, the district's elementary academic director.
She said one advantage of having all the grades in one place is teachers can do more innovative things. For example, Stratman said, "sixth graders can go down and mentor first-graders and kindergartners. So we're doing some things like that."
Tracee Farmer, the district's Reading Recovery teacher leader, is coordinating the K-6 Summer Academy. She said the academy's primary focus is on literacy, with reading and writing workshops offered each weekday from 8 to 11 a.m.
Summer academy is designed to help students who have fallen behind their peers in reading and writing, so the academy's mission is to help those kids get back on track.
"We hope to take what they've been learning all year long and give them -- with a smaller class size -- a chance to accelerate and get to where their class is," Farmer said.
She said Summer Academy also helps prevent many students from experiencing a "summer slump," in which students lose progress they made in the past school year.
Farmer said Summer Academy focuses on reading and writing because those skills "drive everything in the curriculum." She said if students are unable to read their math or science textbooks, "they're going to have a hard time advancing in those subjects as well."
Stratman said students at Summer Academy will be reading a lot of informational texts, so they'll be learning some interesting things while brushing up on their skills.
The school district is taking a tougher stance on the retention of elementary-age students who aren't making sufficient progress in school. Stratman said about 10 students were identified for retention prior to the end of the school year, and all 10 were required to attend Summer Academy. If those students make sufficient progress, some may advance to the next grade.
She said a number of other students who had fallen behind their peers were recommended for the Summer Academy, but parents had a choice to opt out their children for a particular reason.
Stratman said she hopes most of those children will show up, because the goal of Summer Academy is "to close the gap for the child and get them closer to grade level."