PVCS students get ‘hidden education’ in summer

SOUTH DAYTON – While some students are celebrating summer vacation with a three-month break from school, a group of Pine Valley students are going back to school.

The summer enrichment program recently concluded at the Pine Valley Elementary School.

Over 100 students registered for the four-week program, which is held annually at the school. Students in kindergarten through eighth grade can choose from a variety of week-long classes to take in. Classes this year ranged on topics from New York agriculture, pioneer culture, Pinterest crafts, cooking with chocolate and kite-making. The program, which is free to district families, runs daily Monday to Thursday and is in session from 9 a.m. to noon, with breakfast and lunch provided.

Sonja Franklin, summer enrichment coordinator, explained this year, due to construction, the program was forced to downsize. Last year, the program moved off-site at the South Dayton Fire Hall also due to construction. When the program is full-sized, about eight classes are offered per week; with the smaller-sized program, only four were offered.

With each class, students are learning, but it is hidden learning, Franklin said. For example, during a chocolate cooking class, students had to use fractions to double or triple a recipe, but students do not realize they are using math. During a nature class, students would explore the woods behind the school and learn about various insects. Students were also using math and science to construct kites during another class. Each class is taught by a Pine Valley teacher or staff member and all the class curriculum is developed by the teacher.

This is the sixth year the elementary school has hosted the program. Franklin initially created the program as an educational proposal she completed during the administration program at SUNY Fredonia. She said since the program is only a half day, meals are provided and the program is free to residents.

The program has seen high student attendance. According to Franklin, one-third of elementary school students choose to enroll in the program.

“What I wanted to do is something for our kids,” she said. “The parents and community count on this. The community has spoken up very clearly. They have always wanted (the program) and supported it.”

Other classes this summer included a Pine Valley pioneer class where students learned how to leave old fashioned telegrams for one another, and made homemade corn muffins and butter. Students learned games from the hit TV show, “Minute to Win it” in another class and some students even learned a brief introduction to Russian. Franklin said it is nice for students to interact with teachers and staff in a more casual environment.

“Kids see the teachers in a more friendly, relaxed way (in the summer),” Franklin said.

Second-grade student Noah and third-grade student Seth were a part of the chocolate baking class where the class made chocolate chip cookie bars, chocolate chip pancakes and a chocolate pizza. Both young boys agreed the pancakes and cookie bars were enjoyable to make while the pizza was hard to make.

High school students are given the opportunity to volunteer as teachers aides for the program. Students are required to have 70 hours of community service and hours accrued at Summer Enrichment count toward the requirement. Information on Summer Enrichment is sent out to families in the spring of each school year, including to those who home school.

“We have fun with the kids. We hope we can fund the program,” said Franklin. “The community has a need for it because of our being such a rural area.”

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