Academic programs hope to curtail brain drain

Bartlesville schoolchildren have a chance to get ahead this summer as Bartlesville Education Promise plans several events to keep kids engaged over the summer break.

Vanessa Drummond, board member of Bartlesville Education Promise, said this is a way for students to keep involved over the summer break, especially after the 2013 bond issue for Bartlesville Public Schools was passed.

“Part of the reasoning behind the bond issue that recreated BHS into the four-year school that we see here, is that research shows that struggling students lose ground with every transition from one school to another,” Drummond said. “The Bartlesville Education Promise transition summer camps will address the same issue. We want to provide support for more kids to easily make the transition from elementary to middle school and then again from middle school to high school.”

Additionally, Bartlesville Education Promise will be offering many classes to all Bartlesville students over the summer.

“We will have classes available to Bartlesville Public School students this summer, including Introduction to Acting, Art ACT test preparation and preparation to Accelerated English, a path to Advanced Placement courses in high school,” Drummond said. ” Also, Tri County Tech will be offering a technology STEM camp (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) for both middle school and high school students. They will also offer classes for the health industry and computer technology. Each of these camps will seek to keep our students academically involved during the summer, so that they will not fall back in knowledge over those three months and give them information about what kind of jobs are out there when they graduate.”

Most of what Bartlesville Education Promise is trying to address is the changing demographics in Bartlesville as well as the$1.3 billion budget crisis at the state level that is impacting public education.

“Bartlesville students compete academically at the highest levels in our state. We really have a great school system,” Drummond said. “However, our demographics have been changing and we have a lot of children in our schools who face numerous challenges to academic success and graduation.”

Drummond pointed out there are approximately 50 percent of students in Bartlesville who qualify for free or reduced lunches. Also, approximately 300 students are deficient in English skills and over 400 students across the district are homeless.

“Their parents are often unavailable or unable to help them academically,” Drummond said. “These are the kids that need our help.”

Bartlesville Education Promise is a nonprofit group of concerned citizens who want to see Bartlesville schoolchildren continue to succeed. Donations are accepted through the Bartlesville Community Foundation. Incoming Superintendent of Schools Chuck McCauley said what Bartlesville Education Promise is offering represents the spirit of the community to help students who are struggling the most.

“The folks behind this project are amazing,” McCauley said. “In the midst of really tough times facing our most struggling students with state budget cuts, we have a group of Bartlesville citizens stepping up to make a difference. I couldn’t be more pleased to see the continuing community spirit with this group, and the help from Bartlesville Education Promise continues the excellence we have here at the Bartlesville Public School District.”

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