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Vacation starts for summer schoolers

By BY KAYLA BELL - KBELL@VICAD.COM
July 23, 2011 at 2:23 a.m.

Christy Christensen, left, and Ashley Davenport talk  during a barbecue to celebrate the end of the summer school program at the VISD Career and Technology Institute. The six-week-long program ended Thursday.

VICTORIA SUMMER SCHOOLWHO: A staff of 10 guided middle and high school students from in and out of the district through summer school

WHAT: Classes included algebra; economics; government; geometry; biology; English I, II, III, IV; history; chemistry; Spanish I, II; and more.

WHEN: Middle schoolers attended classes for five weeks, high schoolers for six weeks

INCLUDED: More one-on-one instruction, students work at their own pace, free breakfast and lunch through the VISD summer recreation program, ability to get ahead in school or recover credits that allow graduation or grade promotion

Summer break has officially started.

With just four weeks left until the 2011-12 school year, summer school participants kicked off their vacation with a barbecue Thursday.

"It takes a lot for a kid to give up their summer, but I think they realized it was worth it," said math teacher Jordan Crick.

In fact, several students willingly sacrificed sleeping in for studying this summer. More than half of the 178 high school students spent their Dog Days at Stroman Middle School just to get ahead on their credits.

"Not all of them were there because they had to be. They were there because they wanted to be," said David Lynn, who served as principal of 105 middle schoolers.

One of those students was Reyna Nieto. The 17-year-old soon-to-be senior came to summer school prepared to spend the next six weeks getting ahead by earning her English IV credit. She ended up finishing the course in two weeks, though, so she was also able to knock out a government and economics credit.

"I was like, I don't have a job. Maybe I should do something productive and go to school," Nieto said a day after finishing classes.

She even paid for the courses herself. Classes range anywhere from $90 to $260, depending on the amount of credits earned and whether the student is from Victoria.

But Nieto, who will hopefully enjoy a more lax schedule her senior year, wouldn't have it any other way.

"I'll benefit from it all year, so I might as well do it already," she said.

Even those who were there to, say recover a math credit, sometimes stayed to get ahead on other credits, too.

Crick said she thought students succeeded in summer school because they were offered more one-on-one instruction, and they were able to work at their own pace.

"We had high expectations, and the kids exceeded those expectations," said Diana Rigamonte, the middle school principal.

She said the staff would make a scene each time a student completed a course, cheering and celebrating their accomplishments.

"They were successful, just their smiles," Rigamonte said at the barbecue. "You hope that carries over to the school year - that feeling of success."

The staff, too, felt success for what Lynn said was a mostly trouble-free, productive and positive summer school.

Just hours after school let out, they were in the Career and Technical Education building enjoying some summer staples: barbecue ribs, potato salad and dessert.

"Everybody's happy. Everybody left pleased," Lynn said.

Nieto was pleased too, erupting a sigh of relief about finally reaching her summer vacation, which will include a trip to Galveston with her mom.

Nieto had only one regret.

"If I could have done what I did this year, I would have started my freshman year," she said.

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