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Brains and bodies active in YMCA/GFSD collaborative summer program

photo of class

Word building: Teacher Amanda Clough uses an Elmo projection camera to show students’ letter tiles in their correctly-spelled order.

September 1, 2013 -- A new summertime collaboration between the district and the Glens Falls YMCA had first- and second-graders working hard on academics in the morning, and playing hard at Camp Chepontuc in the afternoon.

The goal of the six-week summer program was to blend learning with fun—and prevent the typical summer regression that students experience when school’s out. Mornings involved worksheets, word study, reading and science experiments— but with a summertime twist. “It’s all about maintenance of skills, but we’re trying to make it fun,” said teacher Amanda Clough, who led the course with YMCA staff members Bridget Epiphanie and Abigail Piro.

In the morning at Jackson Heights, students could be found building aluminum foil boats to hold as many pennies as possible, swinging buckets of water to learn about centripetal force, and even spraying shaving cream on desks to “finger paint” their word lists. “We drew words that rhymed with –ump and –ug,” said first-grader Jordyn Etu, with a smile.

The first three weeks of the program reviewed current grade-level material for the students. The following three weeks were spent on vocabulary and concepts from the next grade level up.

After lunch and a school bus ride to the YMCA, students joined in the traditional summer camp fun of swimming, arts, and field trips to places like the Great Escape and a Tri-City Valley Cats baseball game. Parents played an important role too, by pledging to read with their child for 30 minutes or more each night throughout the program.

“All of the students who participated in this program actually made progress and improved their skills, thanks to everyone involved,” said GFSD curriculum director Trent Clay. “Glens Falls is fortunate to have community-based agencies such as the YMCA that are willing to partner with schools to provide opportunities to our students.”