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Chesapeake block party blends fun with academics

CHESAPEAKE — Alaina Collins may only be 7, but she was fearless when it came to attacking the Spider Web. Donning a special suit, she jumped and jumped and jumped on the massive inflatable, getting close to the goal of the game — becoming one with the web.

“It felt like flying in the air,” Alaina said afterwards. It will be awhile before she can take advantage of the real purpose of Thursday night’s Chesapeake Schools Block Party. But she had fun anyway.

Inflatables, hot dogs, music and hot weather. Those elements went together to create the carnival-like atmosphere of the block party whose purpose was actually academic, rather than entertaining. It was to kick off the collaboration between Chesapeake schools and Ohio University whereby high school students can take college courses during the regular school day and community residents can take college classes at night at the high school.

Manning the hot dog stand were Chesapeake parents David Graham and Scott Combs, where close to 50 hot dogs with all the trimmings were given out throughout the three-hour event.

“This is awesome. It gives them a jumpstart toward a direction for when they get out of high school,” Combs said.

In-between the entertainment school and college officials spoke to the crowd about what it means for high school students to get this kind of edge in their academic career.

“My parents told me that 13th grade was college. We want our students to think of OU as their 13th grade,” Dr. Mike Dyer, Chesapeake board president, said. “This (partnership) is invaluable. This fulfills part of the vision that you developed in our strategic plan. We know (the students) have potential beyond what they think they have.”

Also at the block party was a demonstration of Zumba, which is one of five OU community education classes to be offered at Chesapeake High in the evenings.

Zumba will be Tuesdays from 6-7:30 p.m. from Sept.15-Nov. 24 for $5 a session or $45 for all 11; beginning computers will be Tuesday Sept. 15 and 22, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. for $25 a session; beginning Microsoft Excel will be Tuesdays, Oct.6-27 from 6-7:30 p.m. for $50 for four sessions; three dimensional art will be Thursdays, Sept. 17-Oct. 22 from 6-7:30 p.m. for $40 for all six sessions including supplies, except canvas; and ballroom dancing will be Tuesdays, Sept. 15-Oct. 20 from7 to 8:30 p.m. for $39 per person, or $69 per couple.

“This is a chance to connect with the community,” Dr. Bill Willan, OU dean, said. “This project is to raise aspirations, to encourage going to college, to break down the barriers.”