Lawton Public Schools and Arts for All are joining hands to bring arts to the city’s youngest residents. And they want it to be fun.
Elementary Summer Camp ‘23 opens Monday at four LPS elementary schools, giving LPS-enrolled youth from Pre-Kindergarten through grade five a chance to participate in sessions in music, dance, theater, photography, esports, art and reading. The courses will be offered in a rotating format that will last all month, giving each participant three, one-hour courses each morning taught by teachers from LPS and Arts for All, the city’s umbrella organization for arts.
And, because the schools are among the sites offering free meals this summer to all youth in Lawton under age 18, summer camp participants will start their morning with breakfast and end it with lunch. Transportation also will be provided, said Lesa Sparks, LPS executive director of elementary education.
The camp is a collaboration between Lawton Public Schools and Arts for All, with funding provided by the City of Lawton from the at-risk youth category within the 2019 Capital Improvements Program. Arts for All is involved because members want to engage local youths in the arts. LPS is involved because the program will keep its youths engaged. The City of Lawton’s interest is funding programs for at-risk youths.
Sparks said the idea is to expose students to a variety of art-related courses four mornings a week. While the district has offered summer school for decades, this program was deliberately created as a summer camp to provide a more relaxed atmosphere for its young participants.
“We’ll explore each day,” Sparks said, of the variety of arts and other skills youth will experience through workshops, performances and exhibitions.
The idea already is proving to be popular. Sparks said LPS had at least 1,200 students enrolled in the camp mid-week, although she estimates that number increased in recent days because enrollment has surged. Registration was encouraged, but Sparks said the district will accept youths on Monday who did not pre-enroll, although the district is requesting that parents accompany those children on their first day.
“We want the parents to reach out,” Sparks said, of the district’s desire to link families directly to the summer program for the greatest benefit.
Arts for All is providing teachers for arts and music; LPS is providing the staff to teach the rest, while also helping Arts for All sessions as needed. Sparks isn’t willing to predict which courses will be the most popular because courses were deliberately selected for variety.
“There is something for every kid,” she said.