Nashua summer school a hit
Connor Bajc, 9, gets ready to launch a small ball in his trebuchet, a type of medieval catapult, that students designed and built at Nashua’s Summer Sizzlers Science Academy. (BARBARA TAORMINA/Union Leader Correspondent)
Still, the summer programs share an emphasis on hands-on learning, literacy and math skills, collaboration and problem solving. And all programs run for four weeks, so kids have plenty of summer left for themselves.
"The students were extremely engaged because the content related to their lives," said Jaquith.
Although administrators have been looking at mandatory summer school for kids whose basic skills are below their grade levels, teachers have been recruiting kids into summer programs.The new Excel summer school program for middle school students and the Kick Start program for incoming ninth-graders use career and technical training in fields such as culinary arts, woodworking, cosmetology and forensics to reinforce math skills and literacy.Teachers Ian Atwell, Phil DeRosa and Emily Dustin said kids are motivated to learn when they see relevant, real-life applications. This summer, 114 kids were enrolled in Excel and Kick Start, which are both free and funded by the school district.
"We look for students who have high potential but aren't demonstrating that in the classroom," said Atwell. In addition to test scores and grades, a student's attendance and behavior is also considered.
"A lot of the growth has been word of mouth," said Calhoun, who oversees the curriculum built on engaging and fun activities that lure kids in.
About halfway through the presentation on summer school, board member Robert Haas recalled what summer school meant when he was a kid.
Chebase said that students who failed in traditional classrooms settings aren't always likely to succeed in traditional summer schools that offer the same format, with warmer weather.
For special needs students, summer school is an extended year program that is required by the state's Department of Education.
"It was the most fabulous thing," said DeGrappo. "It was a start-up business."
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