Plenty of fun options for teens this summer in specialized, non-credit program

Story by Community Education staff. | Start the discussion

hHave you made your summer plans?

Portland Community College Community Education’s Summer Teen Program offers a diverse array of activities for kids aged 12-17 to enjoy this summer.

Community Ed teen photography class.

Community Ed teen photography class.

From altering clothes to navigating personal finance, from kayaking to designing 3D video games, from cooking to publishing a zine – PCC’s summer courses offer teens the ability to prep for college, explore current hobbies or discover new interests.

The courses provide an opportunity for students to experience the college learning environment while meeting and interacting with peers from around the metropolitan area. The low-cost programming features 36 classes on three campuses (with some offsite locations) and each course is instructed by a professional in its respective field.

The Summer Teen Program has offerings that complement traditional summer teen needs like test preparation for the ACT and SAT, college essay writing workshops and driver’s education.

Jean Mittelstaedt, who teaches the ACT and SAT test prep classes, said one benefit of the teen program is that students are able to foster a sense that college is attainable because they’re able to experience it in a more tangible way.

“They’re not just visiting, they’re actually participating in class on campus which is taught by a college level instructor,” Mittelstaedt says.  

Ryan Alexander-Tanner, who teaches a class on drawing comics, said the program enables students with a wide range of life experiences to come together based on a shared interest.

“Class becomes a place where teens get to go all in, learn from one another, and really get to be themselves,” Alexander-Tanner said.

The Summer Teen Program also teaches skills that may help to usher teens down a lucrative career path.

Teens have a chance to cook with a real chef.

Teens have a chance to cook with a real chef.

In the “Code Breakers” course, students learn the basics of coding languages like HTML, JavaScript and CSS through a series of web projects and design challenges. In the “Minecraft Modders” course, students learn the basics of programming.

The “Teen Finance” class provides students with a foundation to make informed decisions regarding savings, budgeting, investing, risk management and entrepreneurship.

Some classes feature subjects that may not be offered in middle and high schools, such as “Crêperie Cafe” and “Farmer’s Market Challenge.” Chef Paul Folkestad teaches a class on making pizza and pasta.

“This is old-fashioned, get-your-hands-dirty learning and it’s great for young people, whether they’re interested in the business of food, or they just like to eat,” Folkestad said.

Photography instructor Ellen Regal said the education received by participants in the Summer Teen Program isn’t limited to the skills developed in the classroom.

“Having classes on a college campus like PCC inspires teen students to ask more of themselves,” Regal said. “It elevates their learning, and is great for students to meet others from different parts of the city.”

The PCC Community Education Program wouldn’t be embracing one of the best parts about living in Portland if it didn’t offer some courses outside. Classes like kayaking, archery, tennis and nature photography are just a sampling of offerings that enable students to get active and breathe fresh air.

Each class has its own schedule based on how learning happens best for that subject. Some classes are all-day intensives for a week while others run once per week for a few weeks. Tech-related classes are scheduled so students can take one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Many classes start in the afternoon or evening, and none start earlier than 9 a.m.

Community Ed Summer Teen Program

  • What: The program offers a variety of dynamic and engaging educational experiences for students aged 12-17.
  • Why: Class sizes are small, and the focus is on having a good time while you immerse yourself in an intriguing subject. Most classes will be held at a PCC campus, and some will be held at special off-campus facilities.
  • How: For more information, email ceteens@pcc.edu or call (971) 722-6606. To register, visit the Community Ed registration website.

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