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Baltimore students will have two new ways to keep busy while schools are out this summer. In May, city schools representatives announced the addition of two new educational programs: The Learning Express and The Summer Arts Academy. Both programs will run from June 29- July 31, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at select city schools.

The Learning Express is geared toward students in grades one through grade three. It will divide participants’ days between educational and enrichment activities. The Summer Arts Academy allows participants the chance to learn about all forms of art.

Both programs are full, but interested parents can still submit applications to be wait-listed.

The city also offers other programs for students ranging from grade five to grade 12. The programs give students a chance to learn about robots, catch up on classes they may have struggled with during the school year, or take new classes. Students can also use the summer to take Advanced Placement courses for AP credit.

The programs are all free, thanks to contributions from the mayor’s office, local partners like the YMCA of Central Maryland and fundraisers.

“We are really pleased with the community support,” said Dr. Nakia Hardy, Executive Director of the Office of Teaching and Learning. “It speaks to community support and engagement.”

Hardy said the programs are part of City schools’ efforts to make sure that students have options. She said that both the school board and the mayor’s office have worked hard to make sure that children have things to do in the summer. She said that programs like these take a great deal of human and fiscal investments.

Starnes said that so far, the school board has heard nothing but positive feedback from parents about the programs, and that officials hope to be able to offer the new programs in years to come.

He added that during the summer, any student 18-years-old or younger can get free breakfast and lunch at schools where summer activities are being held, regardless of whether they are taking part in a summer program or not.

“We want to stress that. That’s extremely important,” he said.

Check to see what schools will be holding summer programs by logging on to Baltimore City Schools’ website: www.baltimorecityschools.org