Summer school helps students stay on track

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published July 19, 2019

 Grace Henson enjoys the summer school program at Lincoln Elementary School in Warren.

Grace Henson enjoys the summer school program at Lincoln Elementary School in Warren.

Photo by Maria Allard


WARREN — Just because school is out for the summer doesn’t mean learning has ceased.

At Lincoln Elementary School in Van Dyke Public Schools, students entering kindergarten through sixth grade are keeping up with their academics, learning new vocabulary words, conducting hands-on activities and more in the district’s summer school program.

Students from the district’s Lincoln, McKinley and Carlson elementary schools are enrolled in the program free of charge, and the McKinley and Carlson students are bused. The students meet at 8 a.m. for free breakfast, and then go to class until 11:30 a.m. followed by a free lunch. Carlson instructional coach Heather Graef is the summer school coordinator.

“Most of the students seem to enjoy it,” Graef said. “They come in in a good mood. The kids have to use their creativity and innovation.”

Teachers can recommend students for the summer school program, and parents also can enroll their children so they don’t experience the “summer slide” — a decrease in reading ability and other academic skills that can occur over the summer months when school isn’t in session.

The kindergarten students are in a program called KinderConnect, while the first graders are in First Fundamentals. The Macomb Intermediate School District, or MISD, provides the curriculum for both programs. The other grade levels are based on the Michigan Literacy Essential Modules.

The second and third grade students are studying a different science topic each week that integrates reading and writing. The science topics have included the sun, bees, lights and shadows, plants and weather.

This summer, second and third grade students enjoyed a four-week program with Henry Ford Macomb Hospital on Tuesday mornings where they learned different ways to stay healthy. Amanda Krieg, from Henry Ford Macomb School and Community Wellness, brought the program called Physical Education and Nutrition Working Together, or PE-Nut.

A different lesson was taught each week that focused on different ways to stay healthy, including the five food groups that make up MyPlate and why physical activity is important. The students were able to take home gadgets to help them stay healthy, including food choppers and Frisbees.

The fourth, fifth and sixth grade students are strengthening their academics in different areas, including math and English, and rotate between different classrooms. A tutor for the English language learners students also visits the ELL students in their classrooms.

“(The tutor) is working on English sounds with the students,” Graef said. “There’s a lot of reading texts and students answer questions in the text.”

On the morning of July 18, Caitlin Haigh and her summer school students gathered on the carpet to see the outcome of a science project the class did. The week before, they studied weather conditions and were required to make a “house” from a pie tin, Popsicle sticks, straws, masking tape and aluminum foil.

Last Thursday, Haigh — who teaches third grade at Lincoln during the school year — retrieved a hair dryer and turned it on to see whose house would survive some “wicked weather.” The students had worked in teams and all three houses sustained.

Grace Henson, who will be a third grader at McKinley this fall, said she loves summer school.

“Math and reading are my favorite things to do. Reading, you get to learn new things. You get to do a whole bunch of writing on library day,” she said. “Sometimes you might be bored in the summer and come to school.”