The temperature had already reached the 90s by 10 a.m., but that didn’t faze a crop of students at Gilbert’s Greenfield Junior High School as they skimmed down an inflatable water slide and dove around the bases in a game of slip and slide kickball.
The students — incoming sixth-, seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders — were participating last week in The Zone, a nine-week Gilbert Unified School District summer program that provides pre-teens and young teens with something to do.
Patty Glover, enrichment specialist for the district, said the Monday-through-Friday program costs $130 a week. In its second year, about 120 students participate.
For $15 per class, students can also take “premier” classes like archery, scrapbooking, and cooking, or participate in sports camps.
The students go on field trips twice a week: a Diamondbacks game, the movies, Golfland and Polar Ice. They also will be going to the mall where they’ll participate in a scavenger hunt, which has been prearranged with the cooperation of certain stores.
And next month, 40 students will be taking a 24-hour trip to Universal Studios Hollywood.
“We want to do what we can to make this a summer to remember for them,” Glover said.
She said junior high students tend to be a “forgotten little group” because they’re past the age they need day care.
“They get bored (and) need something to do,” she said. “(This is the age) where you’ll lose them, if you’re going to lose them.”
For Kara Hapke, an 11-year-old entering sixth-grade at Settler’s Point Elementary School in the fall, The Zone has made this “the best summer ever.”
She said if it weren’t for the program, “I’d probably be stuck at home.”
The field trips are great, Kara said. She gets to hang out with all her friends, and she feels like she has more responsibility because she gets to do what she wants.
“This place is really amazing,” she said.
Jordan Pettit, an 11-yearold who will be in sixth grade at Carol Rae Ranch Elementary School, said he’d be bored at home if it weren’t for The Zone.
His favorite part is the archery classes.
“I like it because it teaches you how to use the bow,” he said, “and how not to hit your arm with the bow string.”