Students put winter break to good use

Some students are using their winter break from school to take a few classes and learn some new skills in what is being called 'Holiday University."
January 4, 2014 9:01:43 PM PST
Some students are using their winter break from school to take a few classes and learn some new skills in what is being called 'Holiday University."

Most of these students are accustomed to playing video games. But after class, they are well on their way to also creating them. The students are learning computer coding. It's one of three free classes the black star project is offering to students during winter break.

Executive Director Phillip Jackson says the effort is to help close the racial academic achievement gap.

"During the summer, there's this thing called the summer slide where when people don't go to school, they actually lose what they learned during the school year. It's similar for the holidays. So rather than falling behind for two weeks, our young people are moving forward," he said.

Students are also learning black history and financial literacy.

Already a budding entrepreneur with a business making and selling bracelets, 10-year-old Bryant Handley says he can use information about banking and money management.

"It'll help me because sometimes I'll be full of money and it's too hard to put it in my piggy bank and I will take that out and I will ask my granddad if we can go to the bank and put that in there," he said.

Some older students also see the experience as an opportunity to give back.

"When I was younger, I would always sit down with a book," said 15-year-old Kamisha Wallace. "My parents would always find me somewhere with a book so I thought, I'd rather spend my Christmas vacation helping someone learn how to read than sitting at home bored."

The "Holiday University" is coming to an end, but The Black Star projects offers what they call "Saturday University" which offers tutoring, homework help and other classes at 22 different sites around the Chicago area.

All of the classes are free.

For more information: The Black Star Project

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