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Kids Enjoy Summer Fun At ECS

Still running at full capacity, the Escalon Children's Services summer program offers plenty for youngsters to do during the hot, hazy summer months.

Run through The Learning Tree Preschool, ECS provides both summer and after school care programs for school age kids and is winding down the summer season, but packing plenty of fun into the last couple of weeks.

"We're full," said program leader Sandy Berbena. "We still have 30 to 40 kids."

The program is situated in a classroom on the campus of Dent Elementary and, from there, the kids and their teachers can head out on various field trips, which have included treks to the pool on a regular basis, in addition to visiting a local pizza parlor during the recent 'Pizza Week.'

"We've had Hawaiian Week, Western Week when they learned line dancing and we had a hot diggity dog barbecue," Berbena explained. "We also had a week where we celebrated the ocean and the deep blue sea and 'Pet Week' is coming up, when the kids can bring in pets from home."

The recent Pizza Week was a hit, though, especially when the kids had the chance to custom make their own pizzas for lunch. They also designed colorful pizzas with construction paper as part of the arts and crafts portion of the day.

Nicole Luis, 9, said she has enjoyed all of the various theme weeks, while nine-year-old Angelica Fernandez liked Western Week the best for far. Cosette Heilmann-West, meanwhile, was looking forward to Pet Week.

"I have pets," said the seven-year-old. "My turtle died but I have a frog, a dog, a cat, a fish and two dragonflies that fly all over my pool."

Berbena said class size varies depending on the day and some youngsters are there part-time, others fulltime. Regardless of how much time is spent in the program, the youngsters have plenty to keep them busy.

"We've got free play choice activities, structured activities, field trips," Berbena said. "We go to the pool two times a week, that's one of our favorite spots."

Once school is back in session, ECS will continue to run the after school care program on the Dent campus but also will have a new service at Van Allen Elementary School as well.

"The room is all ready and we are looking for children," said Learning Tree co-owner Val Glor. "We have plenty of room."

Based on an identified need for care of school age children in the rural area, Learning Tree officials worked with the Escalon Unified School District to develop the care program at Van Allen.

"The school is putting in some new fencing, a new playground," Glor pointed out.

This will be the first time a care program will be offered at Van Allen and Glor said she's hoping families will utilize the service.

"They have never had one out there," she said, adding that some students from Van Allen are registered at the Dent care site, like they have been for years, but now will have the program available at their own school.

Everything is "a go" for opening the Van Allen site for ECS when school is back in session.

"People typically wait until the last minute," Glor said of signing up for care.

Those interested in getting their children into the Van Allen ECS program can contact The Learning Tree, 838-3955.