Thankful for a longer summer

COLUMBIA -- Children who have to write essays about "What I did on my summer vacation" will have to add a line or two this year.

That's because this summer is one of the longest ever, thanks to state legislation that says, starting this year, no public school can start before the third Monday in August.

While students got out of school in May, they don't have to go back until six to 17 days later than they did last summer.

Most kids would like to send thank-you notes to state legislators for the extra days, added after coastal legislators objected that the school year seemed to be starting earlier and earlier, threatening the tourism economy.

"It gives me a little more time to have a break from school, to lay back and not worry about anything," said Ian Melton, who will be in eighth grade at Pleasant Hill Middle in Lexington.

But for some parents, the longer summer has meant having to worry about paying for added day care or finding additional activities to keep their children occupied.

"I'm excited that my son will have a few more weeks of relaxation, but as a family with two parents working outside the home it has made the summer even more expensive," said Irmo mother Tammie Epps.

There also are some kids who are anxious for school to start.

"I'm getting bored, seriously bored," said Trey Cook, a fifth-grader from Batesburg-Leesville. "I want to go back to school."

In the meantime, he'll visit friends, help take care of his younger sisters and finish cleaning his room. "I'm trying to keep myself entertained."

Anna Kate Anderson is looking forward to starting first grade at Bookman Road Elementary in Richland 2 and would just as soon do it this week, thank you.

How will she fill the next week before she finally gets to start school?

"Read, read, read," she said.

Older kids might be "read, read, reading" too, but not because they want to. An extra week (or so) of summer means an extra week (or so) of procrastination for older kids who have to finish summer assignments before school begins.

For their parents, it means extra time to stock up on school supplies. It also means an extra week of treasured summer activities.

"I get to sleep late for another week," said Tyler Parker, an eighth-grader at Pleasant Hill Middle who, like many teenagers, has been known to sleep until lunch.

"I can hang out with friends, go to the movies and ride dirt bikes," Melton said, adding he'd like to see "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" before school starts.

Kyle Horton, a first-grader at Lake Murray Elementary in Lexington, will use the added time to "play with my friends, play Game Cube and play hockey" and get more lollipops from the bank when he goes there with his mom.

Danielle Horton likes having the extra time with Kyle and his two older brothers.

"I like having the kids at home," she said. "We go to the pool and I like not having to wake up early."