Groups collaborate for summer school

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local
The Lebanon School District and Boys & Girls Club of the Greater Santiam partnered together this year to provide summer school activities for local youth.
Three three-week sessions were offered for elementary, middle and high school students that included academic classes in the morning, plus options for enrichment activities in the afternoon.
It’s a little bit different than summer school as usual.
“It’s definitely been expanded as far as trying to provide more opportunities for more kids to be able to access summer school,” said Ryan King, district coordinator for the summer program.
More sessions are available than usual, plus more enrichment opportunities with the partnership between the two organizations.
The Boys & Girls Club provided building space for morning classes, in addition to hosting their own summer programs for club members. In the afternoon, club staff hosted enrichment activities at Century Park and Cheadle Lake Park with the help of school district staff and the club’s Summer Youth Work Crew.

A summer school participant gets nailed during a game of “Poison Ball.”

The work crew consists of high school students hired to help during the summer, but the goal is to give students training and skills that can help for future job opportunities.
Morning classes were also held at Cascade, Riverview, Hamilton Creek, Seven Oak and the high school. Elementary school students who opted in to the afternoon enrichment activities rotated to different locations, including the Jan Nadig Pool, the high school and Cheadle Lake.
Middle school students could also access those programs, but enrichment activities were combined with their morning classes, as well. Those activities included gardening and art culture, which both had an integrated math and language arts lesson.
The district tried to be more proactive in adding enrichment activities throughout the course of the academic portion to increase engagement and make kids more eager to be at school, according to King.
“Summer school is a voluntary deal, so if kids aren’t enjoying it and parents don’t feel like there’s value, they wouldn’t have their kids come,” he said.
A significant portion of high school summer school was dedicated to credit recovery, King said. The distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic was successful for some, but many fell behind.
“Over the summer, they had the opportunity to try and make up some credits that maybe they were behind in so they could get closer to being on track for graduation,” he said.
High school enrichment activities included robotics, advanced art, music and weight room. The school district received almost 500 registrations this year, and the club registered 90, plus a waiting list of more than 30.
According to King’s experience with middle-school students, summer school registration numbers seem about average, but what he saw was a larger retention rate during the three-week course.
While there are some kids who are going reluctantly, King said, “there’s definitely kids who didn’t have access to siblings or neighbors or cousins or something, so they missed out on a lot of age-related social interaction, and they crave that for sure.”
The district tried to increase opportunities to have fun, play, be social, and to be around other kids, King said.

School district kids take a swing during golf lessons on the last day of enrichment programs for summer school.

The district and club will probably talk about their partnership at the end of the season and discuss whether they want to do it again next year, he said.
Tyler Reece, director of program operations at the Boys & Girls Club, said the relationship Executive Director Kris Latimer built with the school district played a role in the positive partnership.
The two organizations realized there was money available this year for the school district to run a good summer program, and it made sense to work with the club to serve all community youth, Reece said.
Besides, there had already been an indirect partnership in progress during the school year when in-person instruction was nixed due to COVID-19, he said.
“We were supporting distance learning for the kids that were in our building, so we had about 60 youth that were actually able to get hands-on tutoring during that distance learning piece that they couldn’t go to the schools to get,” Reece said.