Every summer, the Colonial School District's Extended School Year (ESY) program provides elementary and secondary students in special education an opportunity to continue studying their academics to be better prepared for the new school year.
To help the students work on social goals and make real world connections this year, the program also reached out to the community.
"There's academics, of course. I had the older students; we did things like text analysis," said George Washinko, a teacher from Colonial Elementary School who has taught ESY in Colonial for three years. "We also had visitors, did group activities and made it fun."
The Harmonville Fire Department was one of several first responders who visited the program.
"They told us what to do when there was a fire and what to say when you call 9-11," said Tiannah Jones, an incoming sixth grader at Colonial Middle School. "My favorite part was shooting the water."
"I liked going inside the blue firetruck, because it had a lot of tools, and we could try the flashlights," said Joey Bucci, also an incoming sixth grader. "They have this long stick-like flashlight for small spaces and another one with three places for the lights, so it was really bright."
The ESY program also welcomed a team of volunteers from Philadelphia Insurance Company to help with a new Field Day event, where there were several stations offering different activities for the students, like a race to see how many empty pizza boxes they could carry or how quickly they could fill a bucket with water using a cup with a hole in it.
"We really enjoyed the interactive opportunity to work with the kids from the community," said Kevin Gray, Vice President of the Claims Department at Philadelphia Insurance Company. "I liked seeing the kids get smiles on their faces after they did something. To see real joy out of a child, that was my favorite part."
The ESY program is a state-mandated program where students qualify for the summer help, after the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team looks at their progress and goals during the year.