It’s the last day of school for USD 383 and many other districts. Congratulations! You made it! Summer officially has begun.

As kids (and in some cases, their parents) look ahead to months of unfettered free time, we have two suggestions:

1. Get outside. This is probably obvious. In the season’s warm weather, many people will spend some time at local swimming pools, parks and ball fields.

Please don’t fall into the trap of watching TV all day or becoming a zombie on electronics. Those things will make your summer disappear faster than you can believe with nothing to show for it.

2. Take advantage of some great local programs. Manhattan and the surrounding area has some wonderful programs to help kids stay active, entertained and learning during the break. The camps, classes and special events are almost too numerous to list.

For now, though, we’ll just mention a couple of free ones. As we reported Wednesday, the school district again is offering a free lunch program, funded by a federal grant, to make sure kids don’t go hungry. This is a helpful support for parents who might have a hard time affording those meals on their own, but anyone between 1 and 18 years old can eat there.

Hours are 11:30 to 12:30 on weekdays at Bluemont, Lee, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson elementaries, as well at Manhattan High East Campus and St. Patrick’s Church in Ogden.

Another free program is the Manhattan Public Library’s annual summer reading program. It lets kids (and adults) track reading time and win prizes for reaching milestones. The program begins June 1. Sign up at the library or at

Making sure kids continue to read through the summer keeps them sharp and ensures they don’t regress before they return to school in the fall.

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