The beloved Creative Art Program of the East Meadow School District is back after a yearlong hiatus caused by the pandemic.
The program, open to district students only, offers children in grades kindergarten through fifth a chance to try a variety of crafts, athletic activities and educational courses.
Linda Lynch, the director of the CAPE program, said that cancelling last year was disappointing. “There are many families in East Meadow who attend the camp that were sad when we got the call to close down the rest of the spring and then to close for the summer,” she said. “Obviously, we had to. But it’s nice that we’re going to be able to open it up this summer.”
The program will, however, differ in how it has operated in the past. Instead of having parents or caregivers sign up their children for the four-week program, each week will be separate. Children can be signed up for one week, all four weeks or a combination of weeks. Each week’s tuition, $120, will be paid separately. [See sidebar for CAPE schedule].
“It’s a little bit different than previous years because we have to follow CDC guidelines,” Lynch said. “In the past, we had kids sign up for the entire summer at once. If they could make a class, they would come. If not, it was very flexible.”
Children will also choose classes in pairs so that they can stay within a cohort. Pairs of activities range from dance and grades for children in kindergarten through first grade or for children between second and third grade science exploration and adventure quest, which gives children the chance to solve physical and mental obstacles.
“CAPE is a wonderful program for the kids in our community,” said Jennifer Pevsner, the McVey Elementary School PTA president. “It allows our children to participate in creative classes and activities, while staying active during the summer.”
The courses and classes are meant to be structured, but enjoyable, Lynch said.
“It gives them the opportunity to try things that they might have not been exposed to in the past,” Lynch said. “For example, keyboarding classes or even karate, gymnastics. It gives a place for the parents to bring their children to during the day that is not the entire summer, but it’s something for them to do part of the summer.”
Parents and caregivers can have peace of mind knowing that all precautions will be followed. Per Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, children will maintain six-feet of social distancing and they will wear masks. But the goal is also to make the CAPE program feel as normal as possible.
“The majority of the time we will be outside, or have the windows open, so we are setting ourselves, hopefully, for success,” Lynch said.
Another positive, she said, is that most teachers have been vaccinated against Covid-19.
“I know our district worked really hard to ensure the program runs smoothly while keeping the kids safety a top priority just as they did throughout the school year,” Pevsner said. “I’m happy to have CAPE return this summer as so many of our children look forward to it.”
Besides elementary school students having the chance to see their friends, participate in activities they enjoy and to just be a kid during the summer months, the CAPE program also employs East Meadow School District students over the age of 14.
“It’s their first job,” Lynch said. “They get that opportunity to come to work, to be responsible. They are trained as teacher assistants to help out and they are a tremendous part of the CAPE program. A lot of times, kids will start at the age of 14 and they stay with me until they are about 22.”
Overall, Lynch said, she, the staff at the East Meadow School District and all the students involved are excited to see the return of CAPE.
To register for CAPE and see a full catalog of course offerings, visit www.emufsd.us/em_cape/em_cape.