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Community Builders: HEAP


HEAP-Imagination-Station-1Information and Photos
Submitted by Jennifer Ballard

HEAP (Huntsville Enrichment Activities Program), a summer activities program, was started around 1969. This summer will begin the 46th year of the program.  For the last seventeen years, John Fortner has been the Director of HEAP.  His organization and love for this program has grown the attendance to well over 400 last summer.

HEAP-TeacherHISD and the City of Huntsville partner in this program.  HISD provides the facilities and staff.  The City of Huntsville partially funds the program.  After Mr. Fortner retired recently, HISD went internal and hired Jennifer Ballard as the new director.  Jennifer is new to HISD and currently teaches at Huntsville High School.  Jennifer has twenty years of teaching experience, and she was also coaching during that time. With her combined experience in the classroom and working camps, she brings understanding to the program’s structure and also conveys creativity with new ideas.

HEAP-Karate-1HEAP’s summer program caters to kids age 6-13.  Any child in Huntsville for the summer is welcome to take part in HEAP; it’s not just for HISD students.  The ages are divided into two Tracs.  Trac 1 is ages 6-9.  The child must turn 6 by September 1, 2015 or have just completed kindergarten to participate in HEAP.  Trac 2 is ages 10-13.  The child must turn 10 by September 1, 2015.

HEAP consists of two different sessions.  For 2015, Session 1 will be from June 15-25.  Session 2 will be June 29 – July 9. These sessions are Monday – Thursday (no Friday classes).  Sessions start at 8:00 am and end at noon each day.  All children are welcome to come to one or two sessions.

HEAP-FamilyThe location of HEAP is Huntsville Intermediate School (431 Hwy 190 E).  Students can be dropped off by 7:30 am and must be picked up by 12:30 pm.  Another benefit to this program is the school district offers free breakfast and lunch to all HEAP students.  Breakfast is from 7:30 am – 8:00 am.  Lunch is from noon – 12:30 pm.

When a child registers for HEAP, they will pick four activities to participate in.  These activities will last over the course of the session.  The students will participate in each activity for 45-50 minutes each day, then rotate to the next activity.  This gives them opportunity to receive fun instruction and experience and learn different things.

HEAP ActivitiesThe cost of HEAP is $40 per session.  With this investment, each student participates in four fun activities, gets a t-shirt, has a snack midway through the morning, and a lifetime of memories.  Payments can be made out to HISD by check (please include your driver’s license number on the check), money order, or cash.

HEAP-ClassroomTeachers for HEAP are all certified teachers with classroom experience.  A lot of teachers are currently employed with HISD; some are retired teachers.  All of the teachers are excited about working with HEAP. There is a lot of passion for teaching with this group.  They love working with kids and love getting to teach fun activities to students.

HEAP-CraftsThe local YMCA is also offering an “Afternoon of Fun” program.  This program has limited space.  Anyone interested in the “Afternoon of Fun” should contact the YMCA directly.  You can go to www.ymcahouston.org/huntsville to fill out the application for this program.  The cost is $45 and the kids will have more activities through the YMCA from 12:30 – 5:30 pm.

Registration forms for HEAP are located at each elementary campus office.  Once students have filled out the form, they can return it to the office and the forms will be picked up.  There is also a HEAP website that includes registration forms and information on all of the activities.  Go to bit.ly/heaphtx and click on the link you need to download registration forms.  Registration forms can be dropped off at Huntsville High School (515 FM 2821 East; Huntsville, Texas 77320) or mailed.  Please put attention:  HEAP, Jennifer Ballard. Contact information is also included for HEAP.  You can use the website or email Jennifer at [email protected].

HEAP incorporates the theme of “Where learning and fun go together.”   The great thing about HEAP is there are no tests.  The kids will get to do a variety of fun activities without the pressure of answering questions and getting right or wrong answers.  Learning can be fun for all students, and this environment can help bolster that idea.

There are also activities they learn that can benefit them later in life.  Cooking skills, sign language, crochet, outdoor education, crafts—all of these might come in handy when they grow up.  But don’t count out the game activities or learning a new skill like music, dance, or karate.  There are so many opportunities offered for kids; it is really too good to pass up.

HEAP is a great summer activity for anyone to let their kids participate in.  One session is two weeks, so they still have other parts of their summer to go on vacation and have outings with friends.  But HEAP is also a great place to bring your friends or meet new ones from other places.  If a child is visiting his/her relatives for the summer, sign them up for HEAP.  They can have fun activities in the morning and spend time with family in the afternoon.  Any and all kids are welcome.

Donations to HEAP to provide scholarships for students are greatly appreciated.  Many scholarship applications have already be received.  We want as many kids at HEAP as possible.  Every little bit helps.  Donations can also be dropped off at Huntsville High School.


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