Ted Tala, director of Lyons parks and recreation, gave a glowing review of the summer camp it operated in tandem with School District 103. (Photo by Steve Metsch)

Ted Tala, director of Lyons parks and recreation, gave a glowing review of the summer camp it operated in tandem with School District 103. (Photo by Steve Metsch)

Lyons summer camp gets glowing review at SD103 board meeting

By Steve Metsch

The summer camp program co-presented by the Lyons Parks and Recreation Department and Lyons School District 103 was such a success, plans are underway for an encore in 2022.

Ted Tala, parks and recreation director for the village, addressed the school board at its meeting on Aug. 24 at Washington Middle School.

That’s the school where the campers met Monday through Friday for nine weeks during the summer.

The school building offered more space and alternatives for campers, when compared to the smaller quarters of the village hall’s community room, Tala said.

The summer camp did not meet in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tala said he worked with Supt. Kris Rivera, school board president Jorge Torres and director of special services Kim West “to make sure these families are getting the satisfactory experience they so deserve.”

“Not only do I know we succeeded in doing so, but I believe this has been the most popular camp experience I have seen in my tenure as director,” Tala said.

He called Washington School, with its large gymnasium, classrooms and cafeteria, was the “ideal site.”

Tala said three teachers – David Rawski, Sandra Polleya and Maggie Fitzgerald – were joined by 12 counselors hired by the village.

“We were off and running,” he said.

Tala said 60 families with 95 children participated in the summer camp that had nine field trips, trips to the batting cage in town, and visits to the public library.

Feedback was extremely positive from parents, he said.

Rivera told the board the program was a success and said “the camp staff was phenomenal.”

West said that she was impressed with how smoothly the summer camp ran.

“It was so great, the partnership we had,” West said.

“I’m going to knock on wood because it ran so great,” West said. “That’s because of the teachers, the counselors that were involved. They wanted to be there for the kids.”

The three teachers, West said, wanted to work with the kids in the summer.

“It was a perfect storm,” she said. “It was great. The school setting was good. We could do a little academics in a fun way so kids can like learning.”

West said she got a kick out of watching Tala playing basketball with the summer campers in the gym.

In other business, the board approved bringing back to custodians who were among the six laid off in April 2020 during the height of the pandemic.

Rivera said four new custodians will be hired. The other four who were laid off did not respond to an offer to return, meaning they may have found other jobs.

The schools reopened to students on Aug. 18 and Rivera is happy about that.

“It’s off to a really good start,” Rivera said.

There were “a couple hiccups,” he said, like a shortage of bus drivers and only cold food service instead of hot for the time being.

“We know it’s not as enjoyable meal for the students, but we have to be flexible,” Rivera said. “It’s a safety factor right now.”

First Student and Grand Prairie are the two bus companies used by the district.

The board also got a preliminary look at 2021-22 budget.

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