- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
This summer’s new tech camps at the Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center give younger children a look inside the professional-grade programs at the county’s technical school for high school students.
“I’m very pleased with the level of engagement,” chef Amanda Granados said. “The kids seem to just love it.”
The culinary class, one of eight courses offered to elementary and middle school students during this summer’s new camps, would be hard not to love after baking chocolate chip cookies the first day, magic cookie bars the second and mini taco bowls the third day.
The St. Mary’s public schools’ Tech Kids camp kicked off last week. There are no sessions this week because of the Fourth of July holiday, but they will be offered again over the next two weeks. Theo Cramer, principal of the Forrest center, said parents can still sign up their children for those sessions.
Programs offered include working with sheet metal, allied health, television production and fire safety as well as continuations of the culinary arts and graphic design sessions that were held last week. A dental program was offered last week only.
The culinary camp was one of the more popular sessions. Students were able to eat what they made at the end of the session and take home any leftovers to “show their parents what they did,” Granados said.
The class of about 14 students included mostly girls along with a few boys, all ages 9 to 13.
“It’s all she’s talked about for the last two days,” Rebecca Badovski said of her daughter, CeCelia. The 12-year-old Margaret Brent Middle School student took the culinary arts camp last week.
CeCelia said she enjoys cooking at home and wants to be a chef when she grows up. “I love cooking,” she said while filling a mini taco bowl one day last week.
She said she was excited to be able to see the Forrest center’s professional kitchen and even to use its equipment to wash dishes at the end of the day.
Cramer said that students using professional equipment is a big attraction of the camp. “They actually get to apply what they learn,” he said.
Down the hall a bit, kids learned about manipulating photographs and creating dynamic layouts, all while using top-notch technology.
“It’s fun,” Leonardtown Elementary School fifth-grader Brandon Pryor said as he worked on making a button out of one of his designs.
Students in the graphic design camp also created T-shirts from their own designs and had a chance to learn their way around digital cameras.
Terri Griest said that her daughter is having a good time in the graphic design camp. “She’s really enjoying it,” Griest said. “I think it’s fabulous.”
She said she is hoping that there will be an even bigger variety of courses offered next summer, especially something related to the school’s criminal justice program.
Cramer said he asked the teachers from most of the school’s 24 programs who would be interested in offering camp sessions this summer. A few, such as welding, would not have translated well to elementary-age students, he said.
Of those teachers who were interested and available, eight different sessions were formed. “It allows people, students particularly, to see the opportunities offered at the Forrest center,” Cramer said.
He acknowledged that a lot of people in the county are unaware of the variety of programs offered at the Forrest center, including culinary arts, construction trades, graphic design, horticulture, television production, criminal justice and automotive.
Some people have called for the center to be open more than just during the school day so that others in St. Mary’s can take advantage of the programs, he said, adding that this year’s summer camps are a good start to that.
“I think it’s a pretty good bargain for what you get,” Cramer said.
The $75 per-student tuition includes four half-day sessions in a week; the payments cover the costs to pay teachers for their time, he said. A few of the sessions have additional material fees.
“It’s self-sustaining,” Cramer said. “That was one of my criteria.”
He said there are as few as five and as many as 20 students signed up for the different courses. More than 100 children had signed up as of last week, Cramer said.
If you goThe St. Mary’s public schools’ Tech Kids summer youth enrichment program is for students ages 8 to 15 and takes place at the Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center in Leonardtown. Remaining sessions run from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday the weeks of July 9 to 12 and July 16 to 19. Supervision will be provided from noon to 1 p.m. for those students enrolled in two sessions per day; students may bring a bag lunch.
Tuition for all programs is $75.00 per session. In addition to the tuition, some of the programs may also charge a materials fee.
Students may choose from these programs: “Cold Steel/Cooler Projects,” “Doctor Who?,” “Fun With Culinary Arts,” “Lights/Camera/Action,” “Newsmakers,” “Open Wide/Look Inside,” “Fire Safety,” and “Spark The Imagination Of A Young Designer.” Course descriptions and applications can be found online at www.smcps.org.
For more information, call 301-475-0242, ext. 127 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.