students in Power Scholars program paint pottery during enrichment time

Manchester School District’s summer learning programs are in full swing! Over the last week, we’ve been highlighting our programs, which include several new offerings. Today, we’re focusing on the Power Scholars Academy, a partnership between our district and the Granite YMCA.

MANCHESTER – The Power Scholars Academy is unlike any others, in that it’s a direct partnership between the Manchester School District and the Granite YMCA. 

The partnership started with the use of a school when Power Scholars first started 8 years ago, serving middle schoolers. In recent years, as the program has grown to include younger and older students, the partnership has grown, as well. Power Scholars is based on a national YMCA program that focuses on both academics and socio-emotional growth. 

“We’re really looking at their socio-emotional well being, first and foremost,” said Jess Riendeau, the Director of Annual Giving and Impact for the YMCA of Downtown Manchester. “We care about academics, but we also realize that if they don’t have all the tools and resources to be successful during the school year, they can’t focus on academics.”

Power Scholars, which operates for 6 weeks at the Middle School at Parkside, is actually three programs in one, serving students from kindergarten up through high school. All 50 elementary school students in the program come from nearby Gossler Park Elementary, and must be referred by school staff. The 40 middle school students can come from any city middle school, and can be referred by school staff or sign up themselves. The oldest group covers high school aged students in the Leader in Training program. 

“An average day for our students is 50 percent academics and 50 percent enrichment,” Riendeau said. “Depending on the group, it looks different, but generally they'll come in, have breakfast, and then either go to an enrichment class or an academic class and then they flip flop throughout the day.”

Students get recreational time and before lunch, spend time on different social emotional topics. One block of academics is a mix of history and literacy, while the other is STEM-based. Enrichment time can include cooking, crafts and even field trips (the group was planning a trip to the beach this week). The Leader in Training program is a bit different, with a focus on preparing for what comes after high school. 

“They’re working on their leadership skills, but also really honing in on college and career readiness,” Riendeau said, “so they’re looking at how to do a job application, cover letters, and mock interviews.”

Students in this group will receive training – CPR, first aid, child abuse prevention – and also get some real-world experience. They visited a college campus for a tour and will also spend time shadowing with younger students in a classroom setting, then creating and leading activities. Students who complete the program can earn high school credit.  

The Power Scholars summer program runs through mid-August. You can find more information about the Granite YMCA at