Dancing hula, performing on stage, and learning the ABCs were just a few of the activities students at Kahakai Elementary School’s summer enrichment program did this summer.
The program is made possible with help from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program.
Sally Bond, one of the teachers who assisted students in the Jump Start second-grade program, noted that it is important to keep students learning during the summer to keep knowledge flowing.
“This program can be much more creative,” Bond added. “You don’t have to do everything so stringently like during the school year.”
Congress created a grant to award to rural and inner-city public schools, which provides academic enrichment programs during nonschool hours for children, according to the U.S. Department of Education website. The program is designed for schools located in high-poverty areas or those with low test scores. The program focuses on math and reading skills in addition to giving students a variety of enrichment activities to complement what they learn in the classroom. The program also offers literacy and other educational opportunities to the families of children who participate.
Kahakai Elementary School’s summer enrichment program began June 2 and wrapped up with Friday’s performances. Teachers said the 78 students who attended acquired new math and reading skills and learned important social skills, such as getting along with peers in a smaller setting. They also learned to dance hula, perform drama skits, recite stories and create artistic masterpieces; kindergarteners made their own mini aquaponics system.
Friday, the students happily performed for a roomful of proud parents and grandparents. Smiles, clapping and joy filled the room as students showed off what they learned this summer.
“I really think (other students) would enjoy it because in the beginning it may be hard because you don’t know it, but by the end it’s fun and you’re really enjoying it,” Caiya Hanks, one of the student hula performers, said.
Principal James Denight said the program highlighted his staff’s enthusiasm and “child-centered” focus.
Two other West Hawaii elementary schools, Kealakehe and Holualoa, took part in the 21st Century program this year, said Ruth Smith, West Hawaii district educational specialist.
The program works with area musicians, artists and coaches to give them an opportunity to share their passions with the students. The program is always looking for new community partnerships. For more information on how to get involved, call Smith at 327-4991.