Roanoke City students better prepared after attending summer RCPS+ program

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - More than 3,000 Roanoke City School students are heading back to class better prepared after taking RCPS+.  This summer marked the fourth year for the program with record enrollment for middle school students.

"We're learning how to handle our money," said Christian Fayette, a Roanoke 8th grader.

The Roanoke middle school student is one of about 320 students rotating through four classes in RCPS+. The summer program teaches students Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics giving them a head start.

"They teach you stuff you're going to learn in the middle of the year and at the beginning so you go to school already knowing what's about to happen," said Fayette.

"There are a lot of skills that we introduce to them in the summer that they will need for the upcoming school year. In sixth grade we have a putt putt course going and it helps them with an eighth-grade skill they have a lot of trouble with area and perimeter with complex figures," said Jaime Barker, a Roanoke middle school math specialist who uses the hands on lesson of building roller coasters to teach math and engineering. "I want the students to come in and have fun in the summer and just keep their brains working all summer and do some math and some exciting projects."

Students get a budget and have to pay for each piece of the roller coaster they want to add and they end up writing a check for those pieces. Each roller coaster costing about $25.

"Obviously Roanoke City Schools is doing something right because we have a large number of kids that want to participate and we're seeing great results as kids go toward the next school year," said Will Krause, RCPS+ head middle school administrator.

Preliminary results over the last few years show students who attend RCPS+ are performing better in school, have fewer behavioral issues and better attendance.  Right now, Roanoke City is paying about $2 million dollars for the program and the state is paying about $1 million in grants. Everything is completely free for the students including breakfast, lunch, field trips and classroom materials. With the data from summer 2016 the school system hopes to get grants to cover more of the cost in the future.