BEDFORD, Pa. (WTAJ) — Summer vacation is underway for most school districts, but Bedford County is emphasizing the importance of education outside of school.

Bedford County and Bedford School District officials are meeting with others across the state
to show the importance of out-of-school-time programs both for the summer and after school.

County officials say students who attend at least one-third of their “After 3” program improve their PSSA scores and GPAs from the previous year.

The Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network (PSAYDN) says PA is one of only 18 states that doesn’t have any state funding for school programs that are out of regular school time.

But that could change this year with the latest state budget proposal.

Bedford County already has its own county-funded after-school and summer program for its elementary and middle schools with After 3, which they’re pushing other areas to replicate.

“I’m very blessed to be a principal where we have a provider that helps us with these after-school programs,” Middle School Principal Kevin Windows said. “Not everybody has that.”

“It shows that we can be a model around the state,” State Representative Jesse Topper (R-78). “We don’t want to have that learning loss, that time over the summer you miss out on so much and you forget on what you learned.”

The summer camp runs all-day Monday through Thursday through the month of June and is similar to the after-school program.

There are 31 students in the middle school summer camp, and they said the lessons and activities are a blast.

Grace Yinkey (left) and her classmates learned about DNA on Thursday by using micropipettes to make a rainbow in a set of test tubes.

Students talked about their favorite activities, like making bear sculptures, learning about DNA and a field trip to Canoe Creek.

“I just thought that field trip was fun, and I learned some stuff that I never knew before,” Ava Anderson, who’s going into 8th grade, said.

The principal said the program officials, teachers and he ask the kids what they’re most interested in to keep every day fun and engaging.

He said many are looking at medical school, so they did the DNA lesson with the PA Society of Biomedical Research.

And the students say it wouldn’t be as fun without all the hard work from their teachers and principal.

“Our principal is so nice to us,” Kailyn Rivera, who’s going into 8th grade, said. “He wants us to be as happy as possible and wants this middle school to be a place where you can feel like you’re at home.”

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“I think it’s also wonderful for the incoming students so they get to know the school and know what it’s about,” Aliviah Walls, who’s going into 7th grade, said.

“I think it’s really cool,” Grace Yinkey, who’s starting middle school in the fall, said. “For example, I already know where the cafeteria, library and gym is.”