A lack of funding over the past few years in the Anchorage School District has led to changes in its summer school options. Students are still taking advantage of the off-season school setting, however.
There's not a lot of choices if you are looking to catch up or get ahead in school -- but for some students, summer school is a unique opportunity because this is the first time they have ever stepped foot in an American classroom.
Rolling out a variety of academics and activities for the summer of 2014, the Anchorage School District is seeing its fair share of student participation. One of the summer options is the ASD iSchool program offered online. Students don't have to be in a classroom while they take courses in either core subjects or electives.
At Begich Middle School, which is hosting the Indian Education Summer Enrichment Program, one-on-one instruction with Gwich'in language teacher Rochelle Adams is key. Hundreds of students are in the building, including seventh grader Karla James -- an old pro in the program, who has been playing and learning every summer since the second grade.
"At first you think it's boring like the first 10 minutes, but when you actually go into class, it's extremely fun," James said.
Joining in on the fun this year are 100 refugee students who come from places like Somalia, Bhutan, and Guatemala, English language learners who are experiencing America and Alaska for the first time.
"Some of these kids have never been in a school before, so they don't even know how to line up, what the rules are," said Philip Farson, the director of ASD's English language learning program.
Farson says the summer enrichment gives students a unique and relaxed environment to learn about schools and culture.
"We are trying to get the basics down with them so when it comes to the school year, they are ready to go with the more focused academics," Farson said.
The ASD iSchool summer classes begin June 9 and cost $100 per class. The Title VII Indian Education Summer Enrichment Program, which has two sessions, is completely free but there's a waiting list.