Officials with the Polson School District are offering a new program to students during the upcoming holiday break.
Tom DiGiallonardo, curriculum development coordiator for the district, said that before Dec. 7, parents will receive a “barage” of information for winter break activities for the two-week holiday vacation.
For four days, Dec. 28-28, and Jan. 3-4, students will be able to go to Cherry Valley Elementary and Polson Middle School for meals and activities.
The idea came about last year when DiGiallonardo and Superintendent Rex Weltz began brainstorming ways to keep students active with somewhere to go over the break.
“It’s great if your family can take a week-long trip somewhere,” DiGiallonardo said, adding that not all families can afford to get out of town.
Teachers also weren’t comfortable with students having two full weeks off school, where many get meals and physical activity such as gym class.
DiGiallonardo said that the district recognizes the time off is important to the Tribal community for jump dances and other events that are planned.
The result, he said, was a compromise that gives students time off with an option to be at school.
Two warm meals, breakfast and lunch, will be served to students that sign up to attend the free program, DiGiallonardo said.
Students in grades kindergarten through fourth grade will attend Cherry Valley, while older students in gades 5 through 10 will be at PMS.
The program is a win-win, DiGiallonardo said, as there are some hourly-paid employees in the district who, if the program didn’t exist, would go two weeks without a paycheck.
As he was planning last year, DiGiallonardo put the program in the district budget, which was approved by board members last year.
He said he has been in discussion with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes for a little extra funding as well.
Next year, DiGaillonardo is hopeful that the process for planning the program will be smoother.
Students that are close enough to the schools will be able to walk, and others will be bused in.
DiGiallonardo said students will receive a breakfast, and from there they may be put into groups, who will visit different stations doing math games, board games, arts and crafts, and physical activity.
Once the physical activity portion is completed, DiGiallonardo said students will receive lunch and then they will be transported home.
For anyone interested in donating to the program, contact DiGiallonardo at the district office at 406-883-6355, extension 605.