Thursday, June 26, 2014

HEAP- It's a Huntsville Family Summer Tradition!

What are some of the signs of summer?  The kids out of school? The mercury in your thermometer rising? Families lighting up grills for BBQs around town?  

A budding scientist in Mrs. Smith's Mad Science session:
 H20 (aka Water) drop races demonstrate the principle
of surface tension and the hydrophobic effect... and they're pretty dang fun, too! 
In Huntsville, any list of "The Signs of Summer" would have to include the signs for HEAP, dotting yards and along roads throughout the city and Walker County. 

Definitely a "Sign of Summer" in Huntsville.

They go up in late May in anticipation of HEAP, the Huntsville Enrichment Activities Program. And it's been that way for over 45 years, so much so that HEAP is a family thing, a Huntsville Family thing.

Miss Bennett- Gibbs PreK teacher during the year, twirling coach during HEAP!
Yes, Miss Bennett attended HEAP growing up.
For those of us uninitiated in the phenomenon that is HEAP, it's a home grown summer day camp. We guarantee that you, or someone you know here in Huntsville has most definitely attended.

You have to get it just right for Giant Cup Stacking Races.
Ask around, and people will share great memories of attending- and since its been a part of our town for so long, HEAP kids have grown up, had kids of their own, and come summertime sent their little ones to enjoy the same experience.

This is Mrs. Coey's eighteenth year teaching team sports.
Her grandkids love HEAP, and being with their Grandma, Coach Coey!
As with most successful programs in Huntsville, HEAP is a community partnership.  Huntsville Independent School District provides the location (Huntsville Intermediate School) and provides the meals and the City of Huntsville helps provide the funding.  In this way, the attendance costs are kept down to make it affordable. Scholarship applications are also available on request. (And, following HEAP in the afternoons, the YMCA offers supplemental child care for an additional cost.) 

The three generations behind HEAP: Patsy and John Fortner,
with their daughter Gayla and Gayla's son Kenley.

And the theme of family is reflected in the program's management.   John and Patsy Fortner have been running this for close to twenty years, and their daughter, Gayla, a teacher in Abilene, comes home to help.  All of Gayla and her husband Scott's children have attended HEAP, and now their son Kenley helps out in the office.

She is getting the hang of this twirling!
The program taps the expertise of many current and retired Huntsville ISD teachers (many are HEAP alumni), as well as local experts in the field.  The 25 person team includes long-time HISD teachers, a second degree black belt in karate, Huntsville Citizens of the Year, youth directors and experts and community leaders of all kinds.

This is cool!
Activities include cup stacking, karate, science, cooking, playground games, indoor games, nature discovery, shooting sports, team sports, imagination station (potpourri of artistic and social skill building), arts and crafts, space camp, computer camp, robotics, twirling, hip-hop dance, drama, tennis and art.
Mr. Hyvl tests blocking in Karate.
The program is available to any child, aged 6-13.  Session I is in full swing, and Session II runs from June 30th- July 10.  HEAP is held from 8 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and the the YMCA offered supplemental care program runs from 12:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.  Optional (free) breakfast is served from 7:30 a.m. - 8:00 a.m., and lunch is served from 12:00 p.m. - 12:30 p.m. You can download all the relevant fliers including the HEAP registration form and YMCA application by clicking here.  If you have any questions, feel free to call the program at 936-661-5551.  Since Session II is almost full, remember to sign up early for the next year.

Robotics begin with a plan.

These girls search for just the right Lego for their robotic machine.

Let's give this creation a test drive.

Retired HISD teacher Mrs. Kruppa has been teaching cup stacking for years-
and she's not above stepping in to fill out a team for cup stacking relay races.
And retired HISD science teacher Mrs. Smith wouldn't miss the opportunity to conduct "Mad Science"
 at HEAP for anything- it's her summer tradition!

You can take my picture as long as you do it quick so
I can get back to my science!

Free play with cup stacking.

Mrs. Little hosts "Fun with Food."  Later,  her students will get to share their delicious creation,
made from scratch cookies- still warm from the oven!

Sparring with Mr. O'Brien

So many choices, you'd be forgiven if you thought
that if an activity isn't listed here, it doesn't exist!

God Bless America, Together We Stand.

Matthew Lahey  Huntsville ISD Huntsville Independent School District

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