No Winter Break: A Surprisingly Welcome Change

This year, many Detroit schoolchildren won't spend their winter break at home watching television, playing video games or surfing the Internet. Instead, they'll be in school during a new event known as the Holiday Learning Fest. This innovative idea serves multiple beneficial purposes in helping the local community, including nutrition, education and parenting support.

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The idea of nearly two dozen schools remaining open over winter break may first inspire thoughts of lectures and quizzes. Perhaps more significantly, though, the Holiday Learning Fest will provide much-needed food for students. For the six days that the schools are open, all students and parents who attend will receive free breakfasts and lunches. Additionally, over 4,000 food baskets will be offered for students to take home.

This isn't the first time Detroit Public Schools have gone out of their way to provide students with access to nutritious, consistent meals. Beginning this school year, all children in the school system, from kindergarten through high school, can receive free breakfast, lunch and snacks. This decision, which involves feeding almost 100,000 children, was made in order to mitigate the stigma that children from low-income households encounter.


In addition to nutrition, the Holiday Learning Fest is also a time for learning, as its name suggests. Each of the open schools will have one mathematics teacher and one language arts teacher. There will also be enrichment activities led by volunteers. The district has put out calls for the hundreds of volunteers that will be required.

For the students, this is a chance for remedial or supplemental education. If a student is falling behind, the Holiday Learning Fest will enable him or her to catch up, or at least not fall further behind, by spending the full break away from the books. Students who want to get ahead will have the structure and resources that they need.


The Holiday Learning Fest isn't only about the students. At eight sites, parents can participate in workshops designed especially for them. In fact, these eight locations actually offer support for parents throughout the year. The parent resource centers were designed as a way to connect and empower parents as they try to help their children succeed. They also help parents enrich their own lives.

In addition to the workshops during the Holiday Learning Fest, the parent resource centers offer GED help, support groups, book clubs and occupational training. Child care is provided at each site. For parents who just want a place to gather with other parents, there are sofas, small libraries and computer stations.

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