Summer school at Hazelwood Elementary appears to be a combination of school and summer camp, and that’s by design.

Bridgette Brooks, assistant principal at the school and co-director of the summer learning program, along with Ann Trader, said directives for the summer program stipulated that it was to be fun.

At this year’s summer school, there are 232 students in grades K-5 from Junaluska, Riverbend and Hazelwood elementary school attending classes. That’s double the number of students who usually attend, Brooks said.

Traditional summer classes are centered on the Read to Achieve program, Brooks said, but the extra federal funds set aside this year are to plug learning gaps stemming from COVID-19 disruptions, targeting math, science and enrichment programs, as well.

“Teachers have been working hard to meet objectives, but make it a fun and exciting environment,” Brooks said, explaining many hands-on activities have been incorporated into instruction time. In addition, time has been set aside for physical education, outdoor play, art and music. There are also counselors on the campus.

The Hazelwood campus generally has 500 or so students in attendance, but with less than half that attending summer school, classrooms have been set up to provide even smaller classes where students get more individualized instruction time.

“We meet the students where they are and take them to where they need to be,” Trader said.

Students attending summer school were invited to participate in the opportunity based on end-of-grade assessments or teacher recommendations.

In the classroom

Art teacher Kellye Slate spent a recent class guiding students through whale research and then helping them print their own waves.

Teacher Angela Ray’s sequencing lesson, one on following instructions, was topped off with a lesson on making ice cream.

As students giggled in the outdoor area as they made ice cream in a bag, they relished the thought of eating the final product — with sprinkles.

Two Hazelwood students, Erin Pressley and Chloe Lindsey, enjoyed the company of their new friend from Riverbend, Hunter Franklin.

“He’s funny,” Pressley said.

“I may be funny, but I’m smart, too,” countered Franklin, adding that summer school is awesome. “You only have to study four hours and get to have a half-hour of everything. I’m learning a lot.”

The students agreed solving puzzles was fun, and Lindsey said she has happy to have learned to tell time.

As students were enjoying the outdoor sun, teachers Missy Jenkins and Stephanie Messer discussed the summer program.

“I wish we would have had more participation because this has been so great for the students,” said Jenkins.

“They have been extremely beneficial coming off COVID,” added Messer about the summer classes. “This has definitely been a plus for the kids and helping them with first-grade readiness.”

In one of the fifth-grade science classes, teacher Sandy Zuver was having students conduct an experiment on which type of container would keep a can of soda cold for the longest time. The exercise demonstrated the process for data collection, and whether original hypotheses were valid.

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