By Shriya Jamakandi
Guest Reporter, Shrewsbury High School
Shrewsbury – Many children shudder at the thought of approaching a school building in the summer. However, this impression is quite contrary to the congenial impression apparent in the Floral Street School's Summer Enrichment Program this summer. With 147 high school volunteers and an impressive number of courses offered, the program has been a big success.
According to Jean Brunell, who has overseen the program as its director for the past five years, “[the teachers] put a lot of preparation into [preparing] a high-quality class.”
The classes in the program have become increasingly hands-on, as students are taught to explore real-world skills to cope with today's quickly-changing world. Joy Bosnakis, who runs the “Fun with Keyboarding” class aimed at teaching elementary school kids ?how to type, explained that “[we live in a] technology-based society [the] earlier that kids get the exposure [to this technology] the better.”
Typically, the classes in the program are designed for elementary school children. “Welcome to First Grade,” run by Gina Kelly, prepares first-graders-to-be for the exciting transition from kindergarten to a full-fledged elementary school setting.
Lynn Grossman, who teaches at Floral Street School and runs “Cooking with Literature,” also encourages children to encounter hands-on experience. Her class has read children's classics, such as “Clifford, the Big Red Dog” by Norman Bridwell and created edible dog bones. In addition, they have read Maurice Sendak's beloved classic “Where the Wild Things Are” and created monster masks.
Mary Rana, who designed the class “Wood-Ovations” explained that her class builds birdhouses, step-stools, and door hangers. Learning how to safely handle screwdrivers, nails, and hammers, the students develop keen hand-eye coordination skills.? Colleen Early, who is a teacher at Shrewsbury High School, has also taught her class hand-eye coordination skills. The children learned to carefully frost vanilla and chocolate butterfly cupcakes in her class, “Cup-a-licious.”
With an endless variety of classes, from “Cup-a-licious” to “iPads for kids” and “I am iCarly,” demand for the program has grown for all age groups. This year, a new summer enrichment program, specifically targeting middle school children, has begun. There is also a program at the Parker Road Preschool.
In most of these classes, high school student volunteers play a key role. The volunteers not only help inside the classroom, but are also assigned to other tasks during the day, such as door or window duty, and lunch duty. Arriving at 8:10 a.m. every day and leaving well after 3 p.m., these high school volunteers, “are so important to the program,” said Brunell. “The program would not run as smoothly if the high school volunteers [weren's there].”
A little before noon, as the tots stream into the building for afternoon sessions, high school volunteers monitor the doors for safety and escort the all-day children from the lunch room into the gymnasium to meet up with the teachers for their next class.
“I just love being able to work with them [it is] a good experience to have,” said RyAnne Ottaviano, a high school volunteer. “I love working with all the different kinds of kids.”
Volunteers and teachers alike would agree that the best part of the program is seeing the kids” smiles.
“They go home happy,” Brunell said of the young participants. “It just makes me happy.”