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Having fun, learning life lessons at Five Towns Community in Lawrence

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Though it was not the outdoor barbecue it was supposed to be, the end of the Five Towns Community Center middle school summer program celebration was quite the indoor party as roughly 27 students, along with the advisers and program coordinators ate pizza, viewed photos and Tik Tok videos in Lawrence on Aug. 7.

The program was shortened by one week from its usual six-week duration because of the coronavirus pandemic, but appeared no less educational or fun as the kids ranging from first-graders to eighth took part in activities that covered STEAM (science, technology, engineering arts and math), including learning to code, making videos and animation.

Program participants also planted and harvested vegetables from the Community Center garden, and played a variety of games, including ping pong and pool. A few younger children took part in the program because of the pandemic, said Nerthi Sanchez, who runs the program that ran four days a week from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“Everybody knows you learn more when you’re having fun,” said Sanchez. “They got to play with other children instead of being the house all cooped up.” She added that everyone wore masks and social distancing guidelines were in effect.

“It was pretty nice,” said Christian Bermudez, who was in his second year of the program and will be in eighth grade at Lawrence Middle School. “I enjoyed playing in the gym and met people I usually don’t talk to.”

Elijah Shivers said he found the program very interesting, there was much to do and it was good place to be. “It is a beautiful place,” said the fifth-grader at Lawrence Elementary School. “We learned life lessons.”

The youngsters were also rewarded for their efforts as they got to pick prizes for winning different competition and some received certificated and gift cards. “It is a safe haven for the kids,” said Five Towns Community Center Executive Director K. Brent Hill.