Summer school commences

Program provides free fun, learning and meals
By: 

Leader photo by Kelly Hogan Hillcrest Primary School student Ember Prellwitz shows off her instrument of choice in an exploring music class Tuesday.

June 18 marked the first day of the summer school programs offered at Hillcrest Primary School, Shawano Community Middle School and Shawano Community High School.

Summer school supplies “experiences for kids that they would not have during the normal school year,” said Chad Collier, the summer school principal at Hillcrest.

Hillcrest provides courses for students from 4-K to second grade. These programs help the younger students familiarize themselves with the daily routines of school as well as help them make friends, Collier said.

Continuing improvement on academic skills is imperative to avoiding the “summer slide,” Collier said.

“Kids who do not continue to practice math or reading can lose up to six months of what they learned during the school year and then must spend up until October relearning and catching up. It is important for students to continue to develop their academic skills,” Collier said.

As well as being academically focused, the summer school programs offer classes that develop skills that are not offered during the typical school year. These range from cooking classes to origami and dancersize. Classes aim to keep kids active, get them outdoors and help them grow both socially and emotionally, said Kim Lodewegen, Boys & Girls Club of Shawano instructor.

These programs provide a “fun approach that allow the children to explore different hobbies. The kids are learning without even realizing it,” Collier said.

For example, Hillcrest students are exposed to the basics of music during a hands-on music exploration class. Students spent one class experimenting with different instruments, such as the maracas and the xylophone, to imitate the sound of rain.

“They all make different noises. It is amazing,” said Ember Prellwitz, Hillcrest student.

The summer school classes are offered to all children within the Shawano School District for free. This includes both breakfast and lunch and transportation for field trips. All children 18 years of age and younger are eligible.

Transitional classes, such as Camp 6th Grade or Freshman Academy, are available for students about to enter the middle or high school. These programs familiarize students with things such as finding lockers, learning schedules and checking grades.

“Summer school provides a great outlet for students, especially those going through a hard time. It helps them build relationships and recognize familiar faces before transitioning to a new school,” said Kyle Vanderhyden, middle school counselor.

After summer school, the Boys & Girls Club offers programming for children until 5 p.m. at the middle school. This provides an inexpensive alternative for childcare that is very helpful for working parents, Lodewegen said.

The summer school, along with the Boys & Girls Club, provides a “good atmosphere with positive role models. I wish there would have been something like this when I was in school,” Lodewegen said.

Shawano Community High School offers credit recovery courses to allow students to earn up to two credits. Students replace credits they did not receive during the school year in order to aim for their 24-credit diploma.

The program consists of about 100 students. Summer school helps keep students on track for graduation, said Jessie Hanssen, the district’s at-risk coordinator.

“The credit recovery courses provide a smaller setting with less kids. The work is individual, self-paced and flexible to the students’ needs,” Hanssen said.

The summer school programs are led by current or retired teachers and high school students. Summer school programs run through July 20.

“The summer school programs provide an option to keep children occupied that is both enriching and fun,” said Matt Peters, summer school principal at the middle school.