BEAR CREEK TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)— Summer is a time for students to de-stress from the school year, but in Luzerne County, hundreds of kids are hitting the books to stay ahead of their studies.

The YMCA Power Scholars Academy in Luzerne County is in full swing. It started in 2016 and continues to grow in popularity year after year.

The free program, which offers breakfast, started with two sites and 75 students, now it’s grown to 3 sites with 360 area kids enrolled.

The YMCA Power Scholars Academy is a six-week program held Monday through Thursday. It’s free to Kindergarten through 5th-grade students of The Wilkes-Barre Area School District and the Bear Creek Community Charter School.

The program is in its sixth year and even continued operating during the pandemic. While school closures caused many students to fall behind, Power Scholars Academy continues to keep students actively engaged by reviewing material from the previous school year.

“It’s more important now. Having hybrid, virtual schooling, even face-to-face, going back and forth some kids are losing their academics, so this program we’re able to focus on what is lost, what is needed, so they could start school year in correct grade,” said Dawnette Dreyfus, the Site Manager for the Bear Creek Community Charter School.

Kistler Elementary School in Wilkes-Barre serves students in Kindergarten through 5th grade, while the Bear Creek Community Charter School handles students up to third grade. This unique program embodies academics and enrichment.

“We have math and we incorporate that with language arts block, that would be ELA, that would be English activities, which would be language arts. We do reading we have tons of trade books from Scholastic and we also have spelling activities as well,” said Dreyfus.

While reading and math are the focus in the morning, afternoon activities offer outdoor play, nature walks, art, yoga, and theatre, a favorite among the students as they prepare for the upcoming performance, The Wizard of Oz.

“I wanna go for the tinman,” EJ Deemer, a student in Kingston, told Eyewitness News.

“I would like to be Dorothy,” said Bear Creek Student Annabelle Geczi.

“Are you doing anything to prepare?” asked Eyewitness News reporter Paola Giangiacomo.

“Yes, we are practicing the scenes,” responded Geczi.

“I like how all the teachers are nice, they teach a lot of fun things, and I love it here, it’s amazing,” said Tianh Lloyd, a Bear Creek student.

The schedule is full day. In addition to academic and enrichment courses, outside speakers will come to the school and present topics such as nutrition and bike safety. The students will even be given free eye exams. Any students who need eyeglasses will get a pair at no charge.

“It’s a great program, especially for parents with multiple children and no eye care plan. United Way will provide them free pair of glasses,” Dreyfus explained.

The program also features a drive-in movie night and a field trip to Lake Tobias Wildlife Park.

If you’d like to register for the Power Scholars academy next summer, simply contact the Greater Wyoming Valley YMCA in Wilkes-Barre.