Donations fund computers, online summer classes at Port Royal YMCA

emoody@beaufortgazette.comMay 23, 2012 

In an attempt to stop summer brain drain, the Wardle Family YMCA in Port Royal is working with the Beaufort County School District to offer free online reading and math programs.

On Friday, the YMCA will hold a grand opening for its new child-development computer lab, in time for both its summer camp and free-lunch program.

The district wanted to help students retain the knowledge gained during the school year over the summer. So it donated 20 computers worth about $10,000 for the lab at the YMCA, which spent about $5,000 to rewire and renovate a classroom at its center at 1801 Richmond Ave., according to the organization's child care director, Kaylin Garst. Hargray will provide Internet access and donated about $5,000 in equipment, she said.

Students in the summer camp will study reading and math each for about 45 minutes a day through the district's "virtual summer school," she said.

The online programs can be completed in blocks throughout the day instead of making students study for an hour and a half at a time, according to Cory Tressler, the district's director of virtual learning. This is the third summer the program has been used by students at home and at neighborhood locations. The CompassLearning Odyssey software tracks student performance and tailors lessons to target weaknesses and strengths, he said.

"We're really excited to partner with places like the Y and the Boys & Girls Club in Beaufort and the neighborhood-outreach centers on the southern end of Beaufort County to really give access to some students who may not have had access before, and also to solidify an academic piece of those summer programs," Tressler said.

The lab and educational programs also will be open to students who come in for the free lunch provided through a partnership of Beaufort County Parks and Leisure Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There are no income limits for lunch or the lab, and both will be available from about 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.

About 30 children come to the YMCA daily for the free lunch, Garst said. Another 250 typically participate in the camp.

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