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Learning year-round

t M&M kids never take

a break from education.

Last week may have been spring break, but not for the Martha & Mary’s Kid’s Club.

While North Kitsap School District staff and students enjoyed a vacation, it was business as usual at the M&M Kid’s Club, which operates 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We have a full-year program and we work when schools are off,” said Mike Birge, M&M Kid’s Club program coordinator. “We provide a service for the community. Our focus is children and working parents and we want to be that gap.”

Birge said M&M spent weeks planning for spring break. When the time arrived, they were ready.

The 50 to 60 students who turned out during the vacation week were treated to a variety of fun-filled activities.

Board and computers games, snacks and recesses, an all-day excursion to Raab Park, art projects, a talent show and practicing a dance routine were just a few items on the M&M spring break menu.

“We did a really cool art project, planted some sunflower seeds in the soil and we play awesome games,” said M&M kid Courtney Graves. “And we went to Raab Park for one of the funnest field trips ever.”

Birge said there are children who don’t want to leave at the end of the day because of “all the fun they’re having.” And there are kids who come busting through the doors each morning, barely able to contain their excitement as they look forward to sharing and reconnecting with a “buddy.”

It’s easy to see why the students would rather be at “school” during spring break than on vacation. A look inside the Vinland Elementary M&M Kid’s Club site last week showed smiles, laughter, and the remnants of educational, yet entertaining, projects.

“It’s better (than school) because you actually get to have fun instead of staying in the classroom,” said M&M kid Grace Taylor.

Topping the list of amusing activities was learning how to dance a little hip hop. The students spent the week learning a routine to present at Friday’s talent show.

“The dance routine is lots of fun,” Grace said. “I like the Charlie.” She then raised her hands and crazily waved them around her face to demonstrate the dance move.

On Wednesday afternoon the students were diligently practicing the routine, as they formed two rows in the Vinland lunch room and got their groove on.

“When we count the music we count in eights,” said dance instructor Megan Henderson, as she began to snap her fingers.

Shortly thereafter, all the students began to snap along. Then came the toe taps, shoulder rolls, head nods, side shimmies, kicks and of course a little hip movement.

“I like to do hip hop and she’s (Henderson) a really good teacher,” Courtney said. “She’s good at showing us how to do it. It’s really fun.”

M&M also hosts an entire summer program so working moms and dads aren’t left searching for sitters. Throughout the summer kids will once again be treated to a smorgasbord of mentally, physically and socially stimulating activities. Birge said a field trip is planned nearly every other day and every Friday is swimming day. In the past M&M kids have traveled to Seattle, Tacoma and Sequim. They’ve visited the Pacific Science Center, the Seattle Aquarium, the Children’s Museum, hiked Hurricane Ridge and even took in a few minor league baseball games.

The summer festivities are so captivating, Birge said some M&M kids actually plan their days around what activities are offered.

“It’s almost like they put their lives on hold and build it around some of the activities we’re going on,” he said. “There’s things they don’t want to miss.”

M&M is a nonprofit organization founded in 1981. Today it offers day care programs to more than 1,000 children in Poulsbo, Silverdale, and the surrounding Kitsap area. Just this year M&M expanded its before and after school programs to the Central Kitsap School District with sites at Cougar Valley and Clear Creek elementary schools.

“We’re always looking to expand and see what’s available,” Birge said.

To learn more about Martha & Mary and the programs it offers visit the Web site, www.marthaandmary.org or call the main office at (360) 394-4089.

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