Several Van Dyke Public Schools summer school students dance hip-hop during the show Aug. 2.

Several Van Dyke Public Schools summer school students dance hip-hop during the show Aug. 2.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Students find academic, enrichment programs this summer

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published August 18, 2023

 The students in  summer school made various artwork  during the six-week program.

The students in summer school made various artwork during the six-week program.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

WARREN — The cheers heard inside the Lincoln Middle School gymnasium Aug. 2 were from the audience of parents and students showing their appreciation for the dance show on stage.

For about 15 minutes, a number of elementary school students in the Van Dyke summer school program performed a dance routine of tap and hip-hop numbers that entertained the crowd.

There were two groups of students. Group No. 1 danced to the songs “Golden Hour” and “Dance Monkey.” Group No. 2’s fancy footwork was to the tuneS of “Dynamite” and “God’s Plan.”

“We’re so excited,” teacher Hannah Rivera said at the start of the show. “We’ve been working very hard.”

The dance class was among many academic and enrichment activities the district offered in summer school, coordinated by several staff members, including Joann Iras, the K-12 turnaround director. Students at all grade levels participated in art, physical education, cooking, academics and more. Some of the Lincoln High School students were able to make up lost credits in the credit recovery program.

Free busing was offered. Classes were held at Lincoln Elementary School and Lincoln Middle School Mondays through Thursdays from June 26 through Aug. 3. Career technical education classes also were held at the Mark A. Kedzior Center, located on the Lincoln High School grounds.

Each day began at 8:15 a.m. with free breakfast. The morning “Academic Scholar Support” classes ran from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and gave students the chance to review skills learned during the school year.

A 30-minute lunch was provided at no cost, and the STEM enrichment classes that specialize in science, technology, engineering and math were held from noon to 2:30 p.m. Students had to be enrolled in the morning academic classes in order to participate in the enrichment courses. According to Iras, about two-thirds of the students stayed for the afternoon sessions.

Monika Davies, Dawn Rahn and John Davis were among the teachers who worked with the elementary students. One highlight included the art projects the students created with papier-mache, clay, paint, photography and drawings. At times, the older students worked with the younger kids. The colorful art pieces were displayed.

“We just wanted them to use as much media as we could,” Rahn said. “They loved it. They were messy. They did really well.”

“We wanted them to be creative and to just have fun,” Davies said. “There is no one right way to do (art.)”

Also this summer, students in third through sixth grade opened up their hearts doing for others in the community service group under the guidance of teacher Erin Mareel. One job was helping to set up the area where the art projects were displayed. The community service group also made placemats for veterans and started a recycling program at the school.

“We made cards for D & D Assisted Living in Warren, and we went on a picnic with them,” Mareel said. “We did flyers and collected donations for the Michigan Anti-Cruelty Society shelter in Detroit, cleaned up the school grounds and cleaned up Wiegand Park on Toepfer Road.”

Arthur Treusch was the secondary enrichment coordinator. One popular subject for the middle school students was looking at how the media has changed over the years.

“We also had a health and wellness class, which was designed to keep the kids active over the summer. That was run by a few of our coaches,” Treusch said. “They talked about physical, mental and spiritual health. That was very popular with a lot of the athletes that know they’re going to be on the football team or the basketball team in the fall.”

In some cases, students also learned how to do minor car repairs and how to fix lawn mower engines, among other career technical education projects.

“The kids that come to the enrichment program, they want to be here. We really have kids that are coming because they want to learn,” Treusch said. “There are teachers that have had an impact on them, and they want to continue to interact with them throughout the summer. It’s a whole different vibe. I like that we can give the kids the opportunity to do something constructive in the summer.”