Henderson County Public Schools’ summer school program begins June 9 and it’s chock-full of hands-on activities for elementary and middle schoolers.
State legislation requires at least one enrichment activity as well as physical activity during either 150 hours, or 30 days, of in-person summer learning. Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services Wendy Frye said HCPS, along with community partners, will offer dozens of activities that go beyond textbooks and in-class learning during its six-week program.
The program will be held Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Students will get a week off July 5-9 and instruction will wrap up on July 22. Meals and transportation will be provided.
“The emphasis is on experiential learning this summer,” Frye said. “We want it to have a camp feel – even the parts of the students’ day where they’re in the classroom and getting direct instruction. We really asked our schools to emphasize hands-on learning as much as possible.”
Local businesses and organizations that have partnered with the HCPS summer learning program are:
- Team ECCO Aquarium & Shark Lab
- Inside Out
- Flat Rock Playhouse
- Historic Johnson Farm
- Bullington Gardens
- Henderson Soil and Water Conservation District
- Muddy Sneakers
- Chimney Rock State Park
- Friends of Western North Carolina Nature Center
- Arts Council of Henderson County
- Pisgah Forest Gem Mine
Activities and field trips vary by school.
Some middle schoolers will participate in an outdoor escape challenge with Inside Out. Flat Rock Playhouse will visit schools to play theatre improvisation games.
Students will get to play on an indoor climbing gym at Riveter in Fletcher. Some will learn about stream and river ecosystems and water quality with RiverLink. Muddy Sneakers will teach science through nature.
More partners and activities may be added, Frye said.
Team ECCO will mostly teach basic marine education but the classes for middle schoolers will be more involved, said B.J. Ramer, founder and executive curator.
During their time at the aquarium, students will learn about the differences between water quality testing in fresh water and salt water, confined marine environments versus open water environments, climate change, coral and seagrass bed ecology, ocean currents, reptile rescue, how invasive species are harmful to natural habitats, marine invertebrate protection, fish identification and behavioral imprinting.
“We can cover so many of the state goals (learning standards) that perhaps they (HCPS) don’t have the equipment to do,” Ramer said. “That’s what I wanted the aquarium to be when I started it all – a resource for teachers. … I wanted them to be able to give their students hands-on, practical experience with things involving the ocean.”
More students have been invited for the school system’s summer program this year – about 20-25% of the student population, Frye said.
A goal of summer programs from the state is to help students catch up who may have experienced learning loss or regression due to schooling changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the 2020-21 school year.
COVID relief grant funds are being used to fund the program.
High school students who failed courses will work on recovering those credits.