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Cumberland Students Use Saturdays to Brush Up on the Basics

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FAYETTEVILLE — Students at six schools inCumberland Countyheld classes Saturday.

The program is an alternative to summer school. The Saturday Academy provides on-going tutoring during the school year instead of trying to cram lessons in during a short summer session.

It is one way the Cumberland County schools are preparing students for the importantend-of-grade tests.

A classroom is probably the last place you would expect to find students on a Saturday, but third and fourth graders at Pauline Jones Elementary meet each week from 8 a.m. until noon.

"It's not that bad," says student James McBryde. "It's just that you have to wake up on a Saturday morning and go to school."

The Saturday Academy helps students with lessons in math and writing. Teachers take a creative, hands-on approach, like using colorful blocks to solve math problems.

"During the weekdays we don't get to play that many games in the classroom, and on Saturday we get to play games and we don't have to do much writing or anything like that," McBryde said.

Teachers also use technology to make learning fun. A group of fifth graders researched their favorite hobbies on the Internet.

"I really believe they'll retain the information," says program coordinator Sylvia Caldwell. "And hopefully they'll be able to recall some of the experience they had in the academy, and it will motivate them to work harder."

The classes are much smaller than the ones taught during the week. Teachers say students enjoy the personal attention they get at the Saturday Academy.

"They'll say, 'I'm coming to the Academy,' or 'Can I come to the Academy,' and I say, 'I'll be waiting for you,'" Caldwell said.

Some students are required to attend the Saturday Academy for remediation because they are behind. Others students who are performing well, choose to take the classes for enrichment.

Officials at theDepartment of Transportationalso want motorists to know buses are running on Saturday, and all road rules concerning stopped buses still apply.