As Beaver Creek School shows, four days of school each week doesn’t have to mean only four days of instruction.
Beaver Creek School District is one of two districts in the Verde Valley to run on a four-day schedule. From Monday through Thursday, K-8 students at Beaver Creek School learn the fundamentals according to district, state and federal guidelines. On Fridays, though, they are allowed to let loose a little.
“With some of the cuts that have come to education, I think it’s going to give me an excellent opportunity to expose kids on Friday to things they aren’t exposed to the rest of the week — some of the arts and music we don’t offer necessarily every day,” 21st Century Friday Programming Coordinator Allie Wheeler said.
Though Beaver Creek has been offering fifth-day programming for years, this is Wheeler’s first year at the helm of the program.
“It’s one of my positions. I have numerous this year,” Wheeler said, laughing. “This year, we have art, gardening, a fitness and wellness class, a citizenship class, and the sixth- through eighth-graders have a leadership class, kind of like student council.”
New for this year, the school has combined resources with the Beaver Creek Library, on site, to offer additional resources and programming every other Friday.
A partnership with the Beaver Creek Kiwanis Club offers two classes that encourage community building.
“We try to keep them mostly continuing [but] we really try to play off people’s talents and interests,” Wheeler said. “We try to take what people are good at, what their interests are, and share them with the kids .... [As a result courses] have to fluctuate with people’s availability.”
Friday programming, which goes from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., is available to all students enrolled at Beaver Creek, free of charge. Breakfast, lunch and a snack are also provided for free. Two buses run the district’s normal route. The program is funded largely by a U.S. Department of Education 21st Century grant.
Additional funding for field trips is provided via Arizona School Tax Credits, and meals are made available via a grant awarded to Beaver Creek’s food services department. An additional feature of the 21st Century grant is invitationonly tutoring for first- through eighth-graders. Tutored students are offered bus service. Typically, tutoring begins after fall break.
Discounting South Verde High School, which operates on a fiveday schedule, Camp Verde Unified School District’s schools also run on a four-day schedule. Like Wheeler, CVUSD’s Peggy Dickey is tackling her first year as head of a fifth-day program.
As Friday Camps Coordinator, Dickey is in charge of operating the free activities and classes available to K-8 students.
“Friday Camps are an opportunity for teachers to share some of their passions with the students that they just can’t get to during the regular school week,” Dickey said. “We will begin the season with some of the past courses: Robotics, computer coding, brain games, sewing and art.”
In the second week of school, Dickey sent home a survey asking students and parents for feedback on the kinds of programming they would like to see on Fridays. She is compiling and analyzing that data to shape upcoming programs.
“I am very interested to see what the survey reveals,” Dickey said.