OKLAHOMA CITY'S first year-round school starts Friday

Friday, August 3rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Students at Oklahoma City's first year-round public school started classes Friday, two weeks before children in standard nine-month schools.

Students at Sequoyah Elementary do not get a traditional summer vacation. Their off time comes in two- to three-week vacations throughout the year.

During the vacations, the school will offer daycare for $70 per child per week. The fee will include tutoring.

Randy Reeves, an 8-year-old Sequoyah Elementary student, said he doesn't mind starting school earlier than his friends. He said he'll be enjoying the rides at Six Flags over Texas this fall during a two-week break from school while his friends pore over homework.

Almost 400 students attend the new public school.

``We are just so excited and happy,'' Principal DeAnn Davis said Thursday.

The principal said she was not sure what parents would think when she suggested spreading out the school year. But the school had 395 students enrolled or pre-enrolled as of Thursday afternoon and a waiting list of four to five students at each grade level, she said.

``We've had people calling wanting to know if there's any housing available in this area,'' she said. ``They want their kids in the school with this new schedule.''

Fewer than 10 Oklahoma school districts have year-round schools. The schools are particularly popular on the West Coast.

Sequoyah Elementary has adopted arts integration, which weaves arts instruction into core academic subjects. Davis already has hired a full-time music teacher and plans to hire a full-time art teacher.

She's also making an unconventional change to recess. Students will play before lunch instead of after.

``We think if they play first then they'll be less likely to rush through eating to get outside,'' she said.

``We also think that they'll be more calm when they get back to the classroom and be ready to learn.''

Brett and Lisa McKean are sending their two children, 7-year-old Emily and 4-year-old Sara, to Sequoyah.

``They won't be out of school so long, and I think they'll retain more information,'' said Brett McKean, who leads the school's Parent-Teacher Association with his wife. ``They shouldn't have to review for the first months anymore,''

Davis said some parents were concerned their children will miss out on summer activities. But that could change, she said.

``A lot of schools will want to do this, and a lot of teachers are already asking to see our calendar and are asking about our plans,'' she said. ``When other schools start doing this, then you'll see some organizations starting to offer activities during our breaks.''