School might be out for summer, but students at Oakman Middle School in Walker County still have plenty of things to do. As part of the 21st Century Community Learning Center at the school, the Power Scholars Academy is being conducted through a partnership with YMCA of Greater Birmingham, Walker County Schools and United Way of Central Alabama. The Power Scholars Academy is a joint program of YMCA-USA and the national nonprofit BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), and is a five-week summer program designed to not only tackle summer learning loss in math and reading, but to also foster physical and social-emotional growth. The program was created to boost students’ academic achievements, self-confidence and social skills, while encouraging healthy lifestyles and engaging parents in their children’s education. The Power Scholars Academy provides children with an opportunity to engage in rigorous academic instruction as well as fun, camp-like enrichment activities and field trips.
Due to its affiliation with YMCA-USA, YMCA of Greater Birmingham applied for, and received, a Power Scholars Academy grant for its summer programs at its Alabaster Branch as well as Oakman Middle School. The Y was also awarded a $20,000 grant from the Walker Area Community Foundation to support the Oakman Middle School site. The additional funding has enabled the program to expand its original capacity of 50 students to its current level of 80 participants ranging from 1st to 8th grade. The ability to leverage this additional funding has also allowed the summer program, which is valued at $1,000 per student, to be offered at no cost to enrollees.
The Oakman Power Scholars Academy kicked off on Tuesday, May 30th and will run Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. throughout the month of June. A nutritious breakfast and lunch are provided daily through the school district’s Child Nutrition Program (CNP) department. In addition, transportation is provided to and from the summer program each day. Field Trip Fridays include travel to Birmingham to experience the McWane Center, the Birmingham Zoo, University of Alabama at Birmingham and the YMCA Youth Center. Scholars will also travel to local venues such as Walker County Lake and Bevill State Community College. Participants will close out the program on June 30th with a summer showcase to share their summer accomplishments with family and friends.
To learn more about the Power Scholars Academy and the impact it is having across the nation, here is a brief video about the program: https://vimeo.com/215043740.