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Schools take hands-on approach to summer learning

By MARINA WATERS

Staff Writer

[email protected]

The Washington County School System is ready to embark on an “adventure” this summer.

The school system will launch its new in-person, K-8 summer program, “Adventure Awaits,” starting on June 1.

“We know these kids have had a tough time,” Washington County Schools Elementary Education Director Cindy Hayes said at the school board’s April 8 meeting. “It’s been rough for them emotionally, physically and even educationally.”

The program, which is funded through the state, was designed to combat student learning loss brought on by the pandemic, but will also, Hayes said, offer an in-person approach to restoring a love for hands-on learning.

“We want our kids to rediscover the joy of learning,” Hayes said. “They’ve lost that. They really have. They’ve forgotten what it’s like to have that in-person learning. I’ve said, ‘Let’s leave these Chromebooks out of summer camp.’ This is the time to do that in-person, one-on-one (learning.) We want to make it exciting but we also want to make it a learning time.”

Hayes said the program, which runs through June 28, will include outdoor group activities, guest speakers, field trips and more for an “exciting” but also educational experience. 

To achieve that goal, Hayes said the school system has done away with the term “summer school” and has dubbed the new summer program “summer camp.”

“We want to put in some excitement,” Hayes said. “We are wanting to take away that old-fashioned term ‘summer school.’ It’s a summer camp. It’s an adventure that’s waiting for them.”

The program will be available to 100 students from each K-8 school, including upcoming kindergartners, and will focus on reading and math instruction in an interactive setting.

As for Daniel Boone and David Crockett, 250 incoming freshmen at each school will also have the chance at hands-on learning.

The summer program will offer Design Camp June 7-18, (which includes Science, Math, and integrated career and technical education programs), and Creative Arts Camp June 21-25, (which includes English, history, art, music and graphic arts). A standard credit recovery option will also be available to students at Boone, Crockett and Asbury from May 26 through July 15.

“I met with some of the teachers,” Washington County Director of Secondary Education Ashley Keys said. “They are ecstatic to do this. I was concerned because they had a very difficult year, but they are excited to do this work with our upcoming freshmen. They are eager to discuss it.”

The high schools’ summer program will be open to freshmen, but if space is available, the programs will then be available to sophomore students.

“(Incoming sophomores) had a limited experience as freshmen in the building as well,” Keys said.

Alison Condon, a Crockett junior, designed the above Design Camp flyer. Callie Scott, a Crockett senior, designed the Creative Arts Camp flyer at the top.

The high schools’ summer program has also incorporated student-designed flyers to help boost student interest and engagement in the upcoming program. Callie Scott, a Crockett senior, created the Creative Arts Camp flyer and Alison Condon, a Crockett junior, created the Design Camp flyer. 

“We talked about it,” Keys said, “and the students felt like this was the best way to get freshman interest.”

The system’s new director of schools, Jerry Boyd, said he felt the summer program was a good way to inspire an excitement for learning following the pandemic and heading into next school year.

“It’s about learning loss, but really it’s an opportunity to accelerate learning and give students the chance to really jumpstart for the next year,” Boyd said. “To strengthen their academic skills as they move into the next grade is the goal. And most importantly is we want them to enjoy learning and be challenged.

Applications for the free summer camp will be open Monday, April 19, through Friday, May 21. Transportation as well as free breakfast and lunches will be available to all students.

For more information on summer camp for grades K-8, go to wcde.org. To register call your student’s school. To sign up for summer camp at the high schools, go to https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSems8DMC_YUXhpndS_7INDO3lS33o5e5dpJ2uH9IdVPVLY0gg/viewform. 

For additional information on the high schools’s summer programs, email David Little (Boone assistant principal) at [email protected], Kent Green (Crockett assistant principal) at [email protected] or Ashley Keys at [email protected]