Students learning real-world lessons during summer class

There are no grades.


There is no class credit.

Still, for six weeks, teens in the Augusta Partnership for Children's Summer Learning Program have spent at least seven hours each day in classes at T.W. Josey High School, where they've been working in a variety of nontraditional classes and taking educational field trips.

Today, they'll present final projects.

It couldn't be a better way for them to spend the summer.

"It teaches me about things I didn't know," said Fatimah White, 15, a freshman at Laney High School. "I don't have to stay home, sleep in the bed or talk on the phone all day."

Along with weekly trips to colleges, government institutions and cultural offerings, the program provides instruction in health and nutrition, workplace development, financial literacy, multimedia-graphic design and marketing and communications.

Graphic design instructor Millicent Bowman said the students are eager to learn the material because her class is different.

"I'd say what we do is unique here," she said. "In a regular school you can't really talk about MySpace, but is made up of pictures, so I figured we should capitalize on this."

Her class, which also covers digital camera work and videography, has made CD covers, magazines and billboards and has become familiar with the picture-editing tools in PhotoShop Elements.

"When you mix the computer with visual aids, you get something the students are excited about," Mrs. Bowman said minutes after one set of students began to edit commercials they created for their final projects.

The interactive nature of the program wasn't by accident, said Robetta McKenzie, the executive director of the Augusta Partnership for Children.

"We knew it had to be hands-on. It had to be something the (students) would enjoy," she said.

Shuan-tia Jones, 14, a freshman at Glenn Hills High School, said it was fun.

Charles Gunn, 15, a junior in his second year in the program, agreed, adding that it has been a great introduction to PhotoShop.

Derrick Douglas, 16, a junior at Laney High, said the program offers a way to keep learning in the summer, rather than finding trouble.

Nicholas Townes, 16, a senior at Josey High, heard about the program from participants in last year's class.

"I didn't know what we were going to learn," he said. "At the class orientation they told me I was going to learn a lot of different things and not just class subjects but electives that will help you better yourself professionally.

"I've learned a lot: how to get prepared for college, to get things done early, and even finances. I had no idea what credit was all about, I just knew you had a credit card and you paid the bill."

That real-world knowledge and skills can be taken back with them to their schools, said director W.R. Mazyck

"It's not only just about graphic design, marketing or finance," he said. "Every Friday we do enrichment and go places like colleges, hospitals ... These students are learning adult life skills and things they can take with them after they leave here."

Students in the program get a stipend every two weeks, an added incentive, Dr. Mazyck said.

"We have students that would do this regardless of the stipend," he said. "They just learn so much. I've asked them, 'Did you learn anything today you didn't know yesterday?' and they have all said 'Yes.'

"They have to be getting something out of it, They're giving up their whole summer."

Reach Kamille Bostick at (706) 823-3223 or



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