It was a fitting end to an entertaining and educational two weeks.
On the final day of the Bridge To Success Summer Camp, more than 75 kids from Fairmont, Green Valley and S. Ellen Jones elementary schools walked across the Big Four Pedestrian Bridge.
They started on the Louisville side of the span, as the group had been treated to a day of learning
about the universe at the Rauch Planetarium.
“We decided this summer to put an emphasis on science, but we thought this would be a good way to emphasize wellness,” said Vince Klein, resource coordinator for the New Albany-Floyd County School Corp.’s 21st Century Learning Center.
The two-week summer program engaged children with computer, nature and science courses to hopefully keep them fresh for the upcoming school year.
“They’d be at home watching siblings and video games” without the program, said Stephanie Gregory, a teacher at Fairmont Elementary School.
Gregory works with English as a Second Language, or ESL students.
Several ESL students joined the summer camp this year, and Gregory said by allowing them to be around English-speaking classmates and teachers for a few more weeks, they’ve enhanced their knowledge of the language.
Green Valley Elementary Librarian Dishonne Slaughter led the walk across the Big Four Bridge. Students need to learn in traditional environments, but expanding their knowledge and providing real life applications of what they’ve been taught is also crucial, he said.
“It keeps the kids active and excited about school,” Slaughter said.
The summer program was supported in part by a grant from the Blue Sky Foundation.
In Indiana, summer breaks are getting shorter for students, as school will begin July 31 in Floyd County.
However, Klein — who also supervises after-school programs during the regular school year — said there remains a need to engage children while they are on break.
Experts and researchers believe summer programs are critical to the development of children, especially for those in low income households.
A study conducted by a Duke University professor and released by the National Summer Learning Association showed that reading achievement for disadvantaged students dipped during summer vacation compared to students from middle-class families.
The study concluded that some students lose as much as one to three months of learning over the summer months.
This has contributed to widening the achievement gap between students from rich and poor families, according to the study.