While the majority of the more than 4,300 Naval Academy midshipmen take advantage of their limited free time and sleep in on Saturday mornings, 98 of them are up discussing how to add negative numbers or construct sentences.
The midshipmen are half of the Mids and Kids Saturday Tutorial Program. Just a little more than a month old, the program provides one-on-one tutoring for students at Georgetown East Elementary and Annapolis Middle schools.
"A number of us had been talking for a while, trying to figure out what we could do for the local community," said Lt. Delores Duncan-White, the director of the program. "We knew we wanted to do something to help the kids."
And that's what the mids have been doing.
The Georgetown East and Annapolis Middle students, many of whom come from disadvantaged homes or are in need of academic help, come to the Naval Academy each Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The midshipmen pair off with the students to work one on one in any subjects in which the youngsters may need help.
The midshipmen have always had informal tutoring programs in which they helped out at Annapolis area schools, Lieutenant Duncan-White said. But working in the schools is not enough, she said.
"We believe it's important to bring the students here," she said. "Many of them have never been to the Naval Academy. And for some of them it helps to get them out of their environments.
"The main thing we stress is that education is important, and we emphasize the family structure. We tell them you can have people who love you and they don't have to be family."
The students aren't the only ones who benefit from the Mids and Kids program. The midshipmen say they get as much as they give.
"I think I've found a friend [through the program]," said 19-year-old Midshipman 3rd Class Brian Schultz of his tutor partner 6-year-old Myron. "We study together. We play basketball together.
"[The midshipmen] take so much from the community. I just want to give something back," Midshipman Schultz said.
Midshipman 3rd Class Jacob Daystar, 20, said working with 12-year-old Tricia has provided him with a surrogate sister and family for the one he left back in Oregon.
"Her parents have invited me over," Mr. Daystar said. "It's gone beyond just tutoring."
Saturday, the midshipmen held a farewell party for their 98 students. But the farewell isn't permanent. The Mids and Kids program will resume in mid-January after the holidays and examinations have passed.
In the second semester, the program could grow quickly, Lieutenant Duncan-White said.
An additional 200 students at the two schools have been identified as being in need of help. And the academy has been receiving calls from other interested schools.
"We'd love to work with them all, but we just don't have enough midshipmen to go around," she said.