July 19, 2014 in Washington Voices

Central Valley elementary summer school has new look

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Central Valley School District elementary school students hike along a trail in the Dishman Hills Natural Resources Conservation Area on Thursday.
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This year at elementary summer school in the Central Valley School District, students went to camp.

Sort of.

The theme for this year’s summer school is CAMP Adams, with CAMP standing for caring, attitude, motivation and perseverance.

Elementary summer school Principal Jen Tesky said students have studied national parks and wildlife. A park ranger came to talk to them about jobs they can get in nature, and representatives from the West Valley Outdoor Learning Center came to talk about birds of prey and even brought in a great horned owl.

Students have also participated in science experiments. They made geysers using Diet Coke and Mentos, made predictions about the geysers and came to conclusions, as part of their STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – studies.

On Thursday, students took a field trip to Dishman Hills Natural Area. Tesky said they were supposed to take samples of the pond, but since it has dried up in recent weeks they hiked the area and participated in a scavenger hunt.

Students were paired up and assigned a letter of the alphabet. They wrote down everything they saw that began with that letter.

Hayden Stroe, 7, was on the hunt for things starting with B. His mother, Danielle Stroe, said summer school has been a good experience for him.

“It keeps him engaged and learning,” she said, “and it’s fun.”

Maddie Pittman, 8, was having trouble finding things in nature that started with A. She found ants, but couldn’t find anything else until almost the end of her first hike when she found aphids.

“It was so small,” she said of the tiny bug.

Zander Turner, who is going into the third grade, had it easier with the letter S.

“We found sap,” he said. By the end of that hike, he and his friends found sand, a stick, soil and the sun.

Summer school began June 23 and was in session Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to noon. Tuesday will be the last day for the program’s 107 students.

Tesky said her teachers have been running progress checks, checking students’ fluency in basic math, reading and science.

“The growth in five weeks has been amazing,” Tesky said. She credits smaller class sizes and intense intervention for that growth. She added that summer school helps students keep up with the progress they made over the past school year.

Tesky said families can help students retain reading skills over the summer.

“Everybody should be reading with their kids for 20 minutes a day,” she said.


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