21st Century summer camp bridges learning
For youngsters like Faith Owens, the 21st Century program’s four-week camp at William Wells Brown Elementary is a great way to spend part of the summer. “I’ve done the camp since third grade,” said Faith, who will be in fifth grade this fall at Southern Elementary after a recent move. “It helps me get my grades up, and when I fall off track, I can come here to learn to be smarter and make good choices,” she said.
Monica Davis, director of the 21st Century Community Learning Center programs at William Wells Brown, coordinated the 2019 camp, which spanned June and July. “It provides our students with a rigorous instructional camp that is also fun and engaging,” she said. “We hope to ensure the kids can retain what they learned during the school year and maybe get a jump-start on the fall as well.”
In the mornings, teachers worked with the K-5 students on reading and math skills, and the children rotated through gym and art sessions. In one specials class, middle and high school students from the Nerd Squad, a STEM outreach program, showed the youngsters how to ink their fingerprints – describing the ridges and patterns in a loop, whirl, and arch design.
A handful of older students also volunteered throughout the month. Christ Makola, a rising seventh grader at Lexington Traditional Magnet School, was a floater while his three younger siblings attended camp. “If a teacher calls, I can help – whether stacking books or playing a game,” he said during a break. Christ thought his siblings enjoyed themselves, noting, “Every time they come home, they talk about the field trips and what they did in the classrooms.”
Those popular field trips included treks to the Kentucky Science Center, the Louisville Zoo, Newton’s Attic, a local bowling alley, and a Legends baseball game. In addition, Jill Wilson with Lexington Parks & Recreation lined up afternoon enrichment activities like swimming, bicycle safety, karate, gardening, book club, and a cooking class.
The summer camp built on Davis’ efforts of the past school as the 21st Century grant provided for up to 50 students in grades K-2 and 60 in grades 3-5 to have additional academic instruction, homework assistance, and after-school activities like drumming and photography lessons. One highlight of spring was when first- and second-graders, alongside a local artist and two teachers from the Living Arts & Science Center, created a colorful mural for the building’s exterior. “We wanted to brighten up our school with a project the kids could see, that they would remember, that they could be proud of,” Davis recalled.
Seven-year-old Genesis Bass recounted how she and classmates worked on sections of the project over several weeks. “We painted it on the ground in the multipurpose room. Everybody was in different groups to help, and when we finished, we put it up here,” Genesis said, standing in front of the huge art panels pieced together into a cohesive design. “I worked on the two birds,” she added.
Davis was pleased with the result, which faces Shropshire Avenue. “We see the mural as a guardian and a prayer for the success of our school, students, parents, and staff,” she said. “We also see the colors as diversity, the abstractness of the piece as African art, the birds as our students flying off to continue to do better things, and the hearts as love of one another, the community, this school, and our students.”