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Pelham's middle and high schools are open this summer with a variety of programs for students of all ages – from kindergarten through 12th grade.
For the first time, all programs are centrally located in the two buildings, a way of providing access to air-conditioned rooms in record-breaking heat. More than 300 students are participating in programs sponsored by the Pelham Schools and another 500 are attending programs sponsored by the BEPT Teacher Center.
The programs address a wide range of needs, some providing additional support for students who struggle academically while others prepare students who want to advance to higher levels of study. These are in addition to the “camp-like” experiences offered through BEPT.
“It has been our ongoing focus to meet the needs of all of our diverse learners,” said Peter Giarrizzo, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Personnel. “Despite the tough economic times that we are in, we are particularly proud of our ability to provide our students of all levels with meaningful programs designed to remediate and enrich their learning.”
Here is a snapshot of the programs:
Under the direction of Intervention teacher Tamara Caraccio, approximately 50 students in grades 1-3 are receiving extra support to strengthen their language arts and math skills. Known as Summer Stars, the program runs four days a week from 8:30 to noon, from July 2 through August 9.
“It is not unusual that some students will lose some of the skills and information that they acquire during the school year over the summer,” said Mrs. Caraccio. “Summer Stars is designed to minimize this loss for students who are struggling to achieve the standards for their grade.”
Teaching this year are Christina Altero, Carin Pinsker, Simona Vasile, Melissa Magiet, and Lisa Buzin.
Similar to Summer Stars, a four week program known as the Summer Institute is offered by the Middle School to approximately fifty 6th, 7th and 8th grade students who need support in math and English language arts. Teacher Patty Bellantoni described her goals in reading. “We want to spark the interest of the students as well as to focus on reading comprehension and listening skills.” Michael Neufville says he likes the program. “The program helps me to read better. We have more time in the summer.”
Teaching the program this year are Josh Stein, Gretchen Thunell, Mariana Cordero, Valerie Cadet, Diane Fetta, and Patty Bellantoni. Offering support in all middle school programs are Loretta Barsanti and Brian Battersby.
Technology Provides Individualized Instruction for High School Students
Instead of a traditional summer school this year, Pelham Memorial High School is providing an online credit recovery program facilitated by teaching assistant Lydia Panton. The program is open to high school students who need to make up credits in order to fulfill grade level requirements. Tutorials allow students to move at their own pace, something students say they like. Students monitor their own progress through online assessments. The programs are course specific, in math, social studies, English and science.
Preparing Middle School and High School Students for Higher Level Courses
Programs are offered again this summer to middle school and high school students interested in moving into honors or advanced placement courses.
For middle school students the focus is on skills specific to each subject, whether it is honors level math, earth science, social studies or English Language Arts. The goal of Honors Prep is to provide students with targeted strategies they need to succeed in these courses, including organizational skills as well as critical reading, thinking and writing skills.
Seventy students are enrolled in Honors Prep, which runs two weeks, per session, each, 3 hours per day. Steven Codella, Bill Chimento, Wendy DeVito, David Acocella and Tom Roksvold teach Honors Prep.
By contrast, the high school's Academics for Curriculum-based Seminar, or ACES, program is not subject specific and includes students interested in moving into advanced levels in social studies, English and science as well as math. Teacher Andrew Scott and Tom Beck say ACES concentrates on the critical thinking skills that students need to succeed and that can be applied to any subject.
ForScott, it all comes down to metacognition, the ability of students to think about their own thinking.
“When they tackle an assignment, advanced students need to think about their approach, what assumptions they are making, what evidence they are basing these assumptions on, the kind of sources they are relying on,” Scott said.
For senior Jamie Costanza, the program has been a positive experience. “It took me three tries to get the right thesis for my final project. But I understand now why the first two didn’t work. That is really helpful. I also realize that I might get advice that I don’t like to hear but that does not mean it is bad advice.”
As with Honors Prep, the responsibility is with the students to complete the program if they want to move into more challenging study. They require the same motivation students need to succeed in these courses, says Beck. Students think about their choice: Do I really want this? Do I have the skills to succeed? How am I defining success? Am I being realistic in my expectations How am I going to do the work?
Each session is eight days, spanning two weeks, for 3 hours each day.
In addition, Middle School teacher Todd Hembury will teach a “crash review course” for students in earth science who will take the Regents exam in August and James Rogers is teaching Algebra Summer Institute for 9th graders who want to make sure they have the opportunity to study Calculus in high school. Although not ready to study Algebra in 8th grade, these students are committed to spending three hours a day for six weeks studying Algebra and taking the Regents exam at the end of the summer. If they pass, they will be on track to studying Calculus by senior year.
Summer Experience Sponsored by BEPT Center
Approximately 500 students in kindergarten through 8th grade are attending one or more of the sessions sponsored by the BEPT Teacher Center. Forty different sessions offer a full range of topics of interest to students, including Kitchen Chemistry, Secrets of the Titanic, Greek Mythology, CSI Chess, cooking classes, Italian, Toy and Moving-Making, as well as Mixed Media, Exploratory Science, and the PB &J Writing Academy.
The convenience, variety of programs, ability to pick and choose weeks and/or morning or afternoon sessions are all part of the popularity as are the great teachers, many familiar faces from the Pelham Schools.