Community Colleges Are For Kids, Too!
By G. Mark LaFrancis
In the mix of summer activities for Mississippi’s youngsters — band camps, vacation bible schools, swim lessons, art classes, baseball, softball, etc. — there is an often overlooked source of creative and educational opportunities: the 15 Mississippi community colleges and their many satellite campuses.
Most of the community colleges offer some type of educational and summer fun activities for youngsters, boasting plenty of parking and air-conditioned facilities, which can include cafeterias, libraries and internet access. Quite often, the young attendees have classes in the very rooms where college students attended during the spring semester. There is security and administrative staff on campus as well. Teachers often are college-level instructors, or they’re teachers on break from area schools.
For instance, in Natchez, the Kids College has been running for 20 years at Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s Natchez Campus.
“Kids College is all about keeping young minds engaged and intrigued throughout their summer break with exciting and affordable options,” Emily Edwards, Kids College coordinator and assistant librarian, said.
“Classes are available for a variety of age groups, subjects, and interests,” she added. “Kids will be encouraged to be creative, active, think outside the box, and they are allowed to learn through fun hands-on activities, experiments, and in some cases, field trips.”
Depending on the college, the offerings range from culinary arts, computers and software, sciences, athletics, creative writing, music, and more, and may include field trips to local museums, galleries and events.
Often the colleges create catchy names for their offerings: “Lil’ Warrior Tennis,” “Out of This World Cuisine,” “3D Computer Modeling,” “Arts Attack,” “Mad Science,” and “Science Explorers” are a few examples.
Classes generally cost approximately $40 to $70 depending on supplies and other considerations, and most often run on weekday mornings or afternoons. Snacks often are part of the fee.
“Each summer’s schedule of camps is decided on first and foremost by community feedback,” Edwards said, of the offerings at Copiah-Lincoln. “I encourage parents and students to let me know what they are interested in, what they wished someone offered, and then I try to find someone that would be willing and able to fill those positions. If someone comes to me with an idea for a class and it sounds like a viable option, we give it a shot.”
As of press time on this article, some programs at community colleges throughout Mississippi may have been held already. Other, however, are still enrolling students. Each community college has its own web site, and summer programs are listed with pertinent information about registration, fees and schedules.
Mississippi community colleges to check out for kids’ programs include:
— Coahoma Community College
— Copiah-Lincoln Community College
— East Central Community College
— East Central Mississippi Community College
— East Mississippi Community College
— Hinds Community College
— Holmes Community College
— Jones County Junior College
— Meridian Community College
— Mississippi Delta Community College
— Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
— Northeast Mississippi Community College
— Northwest Mississippi Community College
— Pearl River Community College
— Southwest Mississippi Community College
G. Mark LaFrancis is an author, filmmaker, and teacher in Natchez. He is a retiree of the Air Force and Air National Guard, which he served for 23 years. He is president of the non-profit organization Home With Heroes Foundation, which helps veterans and their families at no charge.