Second year of summer program deemed a success

Students explored a wide range of topics

EMILY LIU/The Sun

To curb learning losses from the pandemic, the Haddonfield school district last year began a summer enrichment and acceleration program to fill learning gaps.   The program continued in 2022, impacting more than 300 students.

“It gave (students) the chance to broaden their horizons on things they may have been interested in or get a chance to experience something they maybe haven’t in class or in school on a regular basis,” said Jessica Plesniak, administrative liaison for the effort.

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The courses ran from July 5 through July 28 in two- and four-week sessions that  catered to students at all levels. Rather than academics, the summer program enabled students of all ages to explore new subjects they may not have focused  on during the school year. 

Plesniak explained that the courses were offered based on what teachers were interested in teaching, leading to a wide range of topics at all levels. Some courses were repeated for different age groups with projects like “Adventures in Art,” by Kristin Kimmell, where elementary-school kids got to create 2D and 3D art.

Also at the elementary level there were eight courses that included “Let’s Grow Our Mindset,” a class focused on teaching social and emotional learning that helped kids identify their own feelings. It was taught by Tatem Elementary counselor Caroline Brown.

At the middle-school level, six courses were offered, including “What Disease Is That?” with Amanda Leighton, where students learned about microbiology and how diseases manifest in the body, and “Master Chef Junior,” with Robin Walters, which focused on how to make plant-based meals.

At the high-school level, seven courses were offered, including “Design of Coffee – An Engineering Approach,” where Michael Romea taught students about chemical engineering through coffee. “Celebrating Black Haddonfield,” with Holly Maiese, had students conduct interviews with seniors and write about the history of the borough’s African American community. 

Though the summer program ran for a short time, Plesniak deemed its second year a success.

“The students were engaged, very creative and excited to be there,” she noted.  “We had some students who enjoyed session A so much they wanted to go back to session B.”

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