Shakamak school making summer learning fun

Thursday, June 28, 2001

JASONVILLE ---- "School's out for the summer."

Do you remember that song? Kids would sing that at the top their lungs on the last day of school. The thought of summer school made most kids cringe. But not so for students who are enrolled in summer school at Shakamak Elementary School.

"Summer school shows that learning can indeed be fun," principal Art Politz said.

Shakamak has two separate summer schools. The first session, which finishes up Friday, had 109 students signed up. The second session runs from July 16 through Aug. 3, and has 114 students signed up.

There are five teachers who each have an aide, so the students have a 10-to-one ratio.

"We emphasize the low student-teacher ratio, it is much better than during the regular school year," Politz noted.

He is pleased with the results of the summer school.

"Number one, the students do better in the fall. What I like about it is the relaxed routine. During the school year we have 600 students. You can do things with small population that you can't with a large population," said Politz.

The program is free and it runs daily from 8 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. The students receive a meal, and they also go swimming at Shakamak State Park.

Students participate in the program by teacher or parent referral.

"Initially we look at ISTEP scores and Title 1 (students who participate in the federal remediation) language arts and math. It gives a basic pool to consider for summer school," Politz explained.

He stressed that is "an educational program and not discipline, not a get-even-with-you deal. It is geared more toward students who need a remedial program. But it is open for quality learning time during the summer."

The program has the added incentive of going swimming.

"We make the distinction that this is summer school, not summer camp. They have to get their work done and then they go swimming," Politz said.

The summer classes are considered an extension of the grade the students were in before summer break. The classes used to deal with math and language arts, but there have been changes.

"We are putting focus on writing development and math application, because ISTEP said we need to focus on these areas," Politz noted.

Teachers volunteer for the positions during summer school, in elementary a teacher in the higher grades can teach lower grades because of the way licensing is done in the state.

"Summer school is really one of the best kept secrets we have. It is laid back and a fun time do school work and go swimming," Politz said.

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