CI students enjoy first year of summer school

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published August 27, 2014

WARREN — Needing a little assistance while making her friendship bracelet, Lincoln High School senior Samantha Runyon asked fellow student Ciara Singleton for a helping hand.

Singleton, who graduated in June, wasted no time in aiding a very appreciative Runyon. Making jewelry on Aug. 14 was just one of many activities that kept students in the school’s Cognitively Impaired summer school program busy during the summer.

This was the first time Van Dyke Public Schools offered such a program, which attracted eight students who arrived at school each day eager and ready to learn. The summer program ran July 14-Aug. 14. Class met from 8:30 a.m.-noon Monday through Thursday, and CI teacher Elizabeth Trelfa and paraprofessional Mary Grace always had something for the students to do.

“I asked if we could do some type of summer program. (The students) were complaining about not having anything to do all summer,” Trelfa said, who got approval through central administration to offer summer school. “The summer program has been a lot of fun. It’s been very rewarding.”

Through Trelfa and Grace’s guidance, the students strengthened their life skills in many ways. Baking and learning how to cook were popular class projects.

Each day in class, the students also better understood the importance of nutrition, practiced filling out job applications, examined job ads and discussed why time slips are used on the work force.

The group even left the classman behind a few times for field trips to Comerica Bank and Soprano’s Pizzeria, where they put on their chef hats to make pizzas. Gleaners Community Food Bank also arrived on the LHS campus occasionally so the students could distribute food to the needy.

Trelfa also had an entrepreneurial curriculum that fired up the students. And because of it, this year, staff and students will have the opportunity to purchase “Abe Care” hand scrub that students made.

Through their advertising efforts, the homemade lotion will be available for purchase at parent/teacher conferences.

The lotion was made from just two ingredients: lavender dish soap and sugar. The students debated what to call their creation and voted on sophomore Jordan Christopher Williams’ “Abe Care.” Abes is the school mascot.

At first, Runyon wasn’t so sure she wanted to attend school in the summer. But when she found out she could spend more time with her friend and incoming junior LaWanda Terrell, she was all for it. Shaneko Hanspard, Kenny Malone, Tamera Schafer and DeShawn Rutledge were the other students in the summer program. All agreed the program was worth their while.

The CI students also stay active during the school year. Trelfa said there are about 30 students in the program where they work on social studies, science, math and reading. Life skills are taught through a number of hands-on activities that include recycling projects, hanging bulletin boards, making copies for teachers, working in the cafeteria at the district’s elementary schools and reading to younger students.

The CI program is designed to prepare students for jobs and schooling after high school. Singleton, for example, is looking to become a daycare provider while Runyon would like to attend the Rising Star Academy in Center Line to become a chef.