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Colonial's summer programs offer students chance to brush up on skills while having fun

Colonial's summer programs offer students chance to brush up on skills while having fun

School may be out for summer, but the learning continues at Colonial School District through programs like Summer Literacy Blast, Summer Academy, and Extended School Year (ESY).

Schools in the district have been very much alive with the sound of laughter and learning, as students take part in programs like Summer Academy, which serves students in grades 1-9 and is meant to help young people brush up on their reading, writing, and math skills before school begins. The experience is a mix of small-group lessons and assemblies or larger group activities that relate to what students might be studying. 

An example of a larger group activity occurred on a recent August Day, when students at Colonial Elementary and Colonial Middle School were visited by local firefighters to learn more about what they do for the community. Harmonville and Plymouth Township firefighters talked with students at the middle school about how they respond to fires and other emergencies, and showed them the equipment that they use on the scene. Students learned about tools used to open cars when responding to an accident, the types of vehicles that firefighters use in different rescue operations, and about the equipment they have to wear when fighting fires or responding to emergencies.

Students asked firefighters questions like:

Do you have to work out every day? 

There is no requirement, but many firefighters do workout every day so they are in shape to use heavy equipment.

Did you get nervous the first time you went to an incident? 

Yes, and they still get nervous each time they arrive on the scene.

Are there many female firefighters? 

The numbers are on the rise. 

Another highlight of Summer Academy was a Zoom chat with Angel Sigala, a Plymouth Whitemarsh High School graduate who was a cast member for the show “New York, New York” on Broadway. Students could easily relate to Angel, who has to memorize scripts, based on their recent experiences reading scripts to practice their fluency skills as part of Summer Academy.

Over at Whitemarsh Elementary School, the Extended School Year program for students with special needs concluded with a field day celebration. Students playfully tossed bubbles at each other from a bubble machine, took a ride down a water slide, and tried to soak their teachers in a dunk tank. Some students even volunteered to be the ones being doused as their peers tried to hit a target to tip the bucket of water. Basketball, cornhole, and water relays were also part of the fun day.

“My favorite thing is the water balloon fights, because we got to throw water balloons. We also got to soak in bubbles,” said Kevin, a rising third-grader at Whitemarsh Elementary School.

The ESY program runs for several weeks and is designed to help students work on the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals, practice motor and speech/language skills, socialize, and review academic concepts so that they don’t lose ground over the summer.

Summer Literacy Blast is another program for students that took place this year in July at Colonial Elementary School. Students are recommended to the program as a way to gain extra practice and instruction in reading and writing. This year, students read books about physical fitness and wrote about ways to be healthy. They also got moving through a fitness lesson led by Katie Weidman. Ms. Weidman, a Plymouth Whitemarsh High School graduate from the Class of 2011, is a group fitness instructor. She taught the children stretches that they later used when taking brain breaks from camp.

Students also had the chance to Zoom with Shane Victorino, former Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox baseball player. The “Flyin’ Hawaiian” talked with students about what it’s like to play professional baseball, and children were able to ask him about concepts like perseverance and teamwork. Some fifth-graders then did a research project on their favorite athletes.


Students work in small groups at Summer Academy
Students work in small groups at Summer Academy
Students work in small groups at Summer Academy
Students exercise at Summer Literacy Blast
A student cringes as water dumps on him in the dunk tank
A teacher cringes as he is doused with water
A student throws a ball at the dunk tank station
Students douse a teacher with water during the ESY field day
A student throws a bean bag during a game of cornhole
Students play basketball with principals at the ESY field day
A student slides down a water slide at the ESY field day
Students play with bubbles at ESY field day
students play with bubbles at ESY field day
students listen to firefighters talk about their work
Students listen to firefighters talk about their work
Shane Victorino talks to students via Zoom