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Summer school keeps kids up to speed educationally

While most campuses sit silent through the summer months, Sidney Glen Elementary is enjoying the bustle and hum of students filling the classrooms through a number of different activities, with almost every summer program taking place there.

“This year, every elementary school thing happening at the district is happening at our school,” Principal Chad McNatt said.

At any given moment, parents are coming in and out of the school, shuttling kids to and from the various summer offerings.

While many come in for Boys and Girls Club, or the free lunch program, there are still a number of students with their nose to the grindstone, taking topic specific classes to get them up to speed for the coming school year.

Four days a week, students seeking a boost spend their mornings brushing up on topics, but the program is not the typical classroom.

The atmosphere is more relaxed, with fewer students and more hands-on work.

“The purpose is to help kids take ownership of their learning,” McNatt said.

McNatt oversees the summer program, where 321 students are continuing their academics over the summer.

“This year we’ve had more kids than we’ve had before,” McNatt said.

In Jamie Del Palacio’s morning science class, her first- through third-graders excitedly explain their science projects to McNatt, each interrupting the other, saying “mine was really cool!”

Because of the smaller class size, Del Palacio can give each student a different project while they work on scientific method and learn the difference between a control variable and an experimental variable.

During the regular school year, the kids that are struggling can get pushed aside in the large classrooms.

“Lower class size really helps,” McNatt said. “The numbers are low, so they stay engaged.”

Del Palacio said for a lot of the students the real help is not the catching up, but keeping the pace and not falling behind over the summer. At the end of the year, she will even recommended her successful students consider a class over the summer just to keep the brain moving.

“I see it as just a really good thing for the kids that might be struggling in the full year,” she said.

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