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Summer enrichment programs for middle and high school students return, many of them in person

Among the Youth Programs offered through Sac State's College of Continuing Education is a study of law enforcement. These students in 2019 engaged with human and canine police officers in the course of the program. (Sacramento State/College of Continuing Education)

Sacramento State’s popular summer Youth Programs are back – and many have returned to campus following two years of virtual programming made necessary by the pandemic.

The programs, run through the College of Continuing Education (CCE), offer local middle and high school students weeklong immersive learning opportunities in a variety of fields while providing a preview of life on a college campus.

Roughly half of the 27 classes will be offered in person on campus, something that Anna Keck, CCE interim associate director of Academic and Professional Programs, is looking forward to after two years fully online.

Summer programs welding
Welding is another option for high school students in the Summer Academies portion of the University's summer Youth Programs. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

Keck said the transition back from virtual classes is “a little stressful” for her team as they get used to operating in person again.

“But our team is super excited to actually be able to have classes in person, engage with the students, and help the students build connections with the instructors, too,” she said.

Incoming seventh- through 10th-graders can participate in Academic Enrichment courses, where they explore a variety of subjects and preview college through hands-on courses. This year’s offerings include Introduction to Video Game Development, Gender Studies, Programming with Python, Acting for Stage and Screen, and Writing Effective Arguments.

Summer Academies for High School Students allow incoming high schoolers  through graduating seniors to preview career paths and college majors. This year’s academies include Future Teachers, Data Science, Law Enforcement, Cyber Security, and Entrepreneurship.

Classes run for a week at a time, and registration is open until a class is full – typically a maximum of 24 students, though some classes are smaller. Faculty from Sac State and community colleges and local professionals teach the classes. Scholarships are available to help cover fees and ensure the programs remain accessible to all students regardless of their ability to pay.

When COVID-19 forced most campus offices to switch to remote operations in March 2020, CCE quickly pivoted to ensure they could continue offering Summer Programs online. Ben Fell, CCE director of Academic and Professional Programs, said a silver lining emerged from the experience.

“Especially with the need to maybe go remote or virtual for other reasons in the future, it's reassuring to know that we could do it, and we have a lot of best practices developed the past couple years,” Fell said.

Keck said virtual delivery allowed the programs to reach a wider audience, including those who may not have the resources to physically get to Sac State.

Part of the Youth Programs experience, however, is participants visiting Sac State, getting a sense of college life, and possibly envisioning themselves as college students – maybe even a Hornet. A return to in-person programs revives that opportunity, especially for young people who may not have it otherwise, Keck said.

“The youth get to actually come onto campus when their class is in person. They get to see what a college campus is like,” she said. “A lot of the youth in the region have never had the opportunity to do that.”

More information about summer Youth Programs, including registration information, is on the CCE website.

Youth Programs robotics
Students in 2019 work on their robotics projects. Many of Sac State's summer Youth Programs are being taught in person again this year. (Sacramento State/College of Continuing Education)


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About Jonathan Morales

Jonathan Morales joined the Sac State communications team in 2017 as a writer and editor. He previously worked at San Francisco State University and as a newspaper reporter and editor. He enjoys local beer, Bay Area sports teams, and spending time outdoors with his family and dog.

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