CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Those aren’t college students strolling through the Coe College campus. This week Grant Wood Area Education Agency marked its 34th year of bringing college experiences to local middle school students this summer as more than 500 students from East Central Iowa begin taking courses through Grant Wood AEA’s summer enrichment program. Much like shifts made at schools and universities across the country, last year COVID-19 forced Grant Wood AEA’s College for Kids into a virtual setting. This summer, the program has returned to in person classes, and the corridor’s high-achieving middle school students once again have the opportunity to engage in a college-like experience during their summer vacations. This program has a rich history of providing gifted and talented students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades the opportunity to interact with a challenging curriculum in a college setting. Each year the list of participating districts is long, and the students enrolling have benefited from a variety of course offerings over Grant Wood AEA’s C4K’s history. This year attendees come from 35 different area schools including Alburnett, Anamosa, Belle Plaine, Benton, Cedar Rapids, Center Point-Urbana, Central City, Clear Creek Amana, College Community, HLV, Iowa City, Iowa City Regina, Iowa Valley Community, Isaac Newton Christian Academy, LaSalle Middle School, Linn-Mar, Lisbon, Lutheran Interparish School, Marion Independent, Midland, Mid-Prairie, Monticello, Mount Vernon, North Cedar, Regis Middle School, Solon, St. Joseph, Sacred Heart, Summit Schools, Tipton, Trinity Lutheran, Vinton-Shellsburg, West Branch, Williamsburg and Willowwind. Susie Green, Grant Wood AEA’s student programs specialist, says, “This program is coming back, strong with courses never before seen in the program.” “There’s a new course called ‘I’d like to tell you a story’ that teaches students the ins and outs of podcasting. Another course tackles script writing through the lens of Dungeons and Dragons. There’s even a class that teaches students how to run their own business, called ‘Math of Monkey Business.’ We’re always happy to dig into subjects student’s wouldn’t normally learn during the school year.” Students select which classes they would like to attend during the two-week sessions. Although students have returned to an in-person experience, there are some differences from past years. “Our overall enrollment is lower this year than years past, and we are still following special precautions provided by public health for camps and summer programs,” says Green. “Those are small sacrifices to make as we celebrate the ability to bring back an in-person college learning experience to these students.” Grant Wood AEA is one of nine area education agencies in the state of Iowa. College for Kids is a summer learning program offered through Grant Wood AEA to expand students’ academic abilities and interests. More than 30 school districts are participating in the program, which is available to students in Benton, Cedar, Iowa, Johnson, Jones, Linn and Washington counties.