Summer studies |

Summer studies

William Ferchland
William Ferchland / Tahoe Daily Tribune Lupe Ruelas, 13, works on math problems during a day of summer school, which he doesn't seem to mind.

Lupe Ruelas has trouble waking up at 6 in the morning. Other than that, summer school is enjoyable for the eighth-grader.

Ruelas is one of 843 students in Lake Tahoe Unified School District taking summer school to either make-up credit or prepare themselves for the upcoming school year.

Ruelas, 13, is getting help for math, social studies and language arts.

“You have fun and you get credits instead of failing,” he said over a sheet of math problems.

More than 400 students arrive at South Tahoe High School around 7 a.m., just about the time when most adults brew their morning coffee. Summer school ends this week after a month of instruction.

Although school lets out around noon, there is no time to enjoy the lazy days of summer. Students need to focus on homework for the next day since summer school condenses a semester’s worth of material into four weeks.

“It teaches you to do your work,” said Cory Quick, a sophomore. Quick was making up English credits and taking a math class to prepare him for algebra.

Attendance is critical since the curriculum is condensed. For that reason, students can be booted from the program if absences or tardies fester.

“It’s pretty strict with attendance,” said Principal Karen Tinlin, the leading teacher at the sixth-grade through high school summer program.

Mike Davis, lead teacher for elementary summer school students, said after the morning bell rings he stands in the parking lot. He hands out warning letters to parents or drivers of late students since it’s likely the adult’s fault for a child being late.

Preparation for summer school at the district level begins in January or February, said Superintendent Diane Scheerhorn. In Douglas County, plans are made in March.

There are two sessions of summer school in Douglas County. The first session, which ended last Thursday, had 480 students districtwide. The second, which starts today, has 420 students, said Roy Casey, assistant superintendent of education services.

Unlike LTUSD, Douglas County only offers classes for make-up credits. Most students are in middle school or are going to be freshmen in high school.

Not much information is pulled from summer school except what subjects students are deficient in, Casey said.

He also said the stigma of attending summer school is vanishing.

“We’re finding that kids are actually participating in summer school instead of waiting for the later years in high school to make up,” he said. “The choice is really theirs.”

Ivan Solorzan, an eighth-grader, waited for a friend to get out of summer school. Ivan was glad he had his summer free.

“It’s really boring,” he said. “You have to wake up early in the morning.”

– E-mail William Ferchland at

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