Dylan Meyer holds onto the wall during the Rock Wall Challenge class at the Fall Academy at Kyrene de la Colina Elementary School on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013.

[David Jolkovski/AFN]

Schools across the Kyrene district are currently enjoying fall break, but that doesn’t mean the district isn’t offering fun activates for its students.

Two years ago the Kyrene School District decided to create the Fall Academy for students in kindergarten through fifth grade to keep them busy during the break. So far it’s been a big hit, increasing in the number of participants each year.

This year’s Fall Academy is at Kyrene de la Colina Elementary School, 13612 S. 36th St.

During its first year the Fall Academy had 30 kids, and this year they oversee more than 115 kids.

“It has almost quadrupled in size since last year,” said Pete Flocken, program director of the Fall Academy. “Now the parents have seen it and really like it, so it’s a really popular program. It’s a great need for the community.”

Due to the popularity of the district’s summer program, Flocken said they wanted to continue with programs during the year that would benefit the community’s wants and needs.

“We said if Summer Academy is something parents really enjoy, why not try it out during the break camps,” he said. “It’s kind of an extension of the summer break program.”

For students signed up for the academy they have more than 40 classes to choose from such as field games, rock climbing and channeling their William Tell skills by participating in an archery class.

Students are also allowed to sign up for whatever class they feel would be the best fit for them, and can indulge in other classes outside of their comfort zones.

He added during this year’s Fall Academy students tend to lean to more of the science classes and cooking classes this time around.

“It changes because this past spring break the sports classes were really full and booming, now this time around the younger kids science and cooking classes have the most registration,” Flocken said.

Each class lasts an hour, with the academy going from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In between classes students meet in the multipurpose room to be sent to their next class.

What separates Fall Academy from other programs is that it gives parents the choice to have their child stay for the full duration of the day, or for a few hours.

“It’s a lot different from our other programs because some parents only need something for two hours a day, so they can sign up for individual classes, where they can sign up for period one or period two and go home,” Flocken said. “It meets a lot of different needs for every family looking for something different.”

And that’s the goal of each staff member, to find an activity students have never seen before and enjoy the entire experience throughout their time in the Fall Academy.

“It’s kids from different neighborhoods and schools, so for one they get to meet a lot of new kids. The classes are innovative, we strive to offer things that kids haven’t seen before,” Flocken said.

Jon Mowchan, Fall Academy instructor, said the program offers something different for the kids, being not as structured as a typical school day.

He believes the program is beneficial for students because of the variety of classes they offer and each child is able to socialize with different kids from different schools.

“They get to meet kids who go to Kids Club, they get to meet kids who don’t go to Kids Club, and they get to interact with each other in that way, instead of just being at school,” Mowchan said.

For more information about the Fall Academy, visit www.kyrene.org.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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