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September 06. 2013 10:31PM

School summer enrichment programs a big hit in Salem

SALEM — It was a stellar year for the district’s summer school and summer enrichment programs, which saw a tremendous increase in enrollment, according to program Director Michael Courtois.

“We challenged our staff to create programs our students could participate in this summer and that would keep their attention and continue their academic growth,” said Superintendent Michael Delahanty.

Courtois said Delahanty and Assistant Superintendent Maura Palmer wanted the summer school staff to shake things up and create nontraditional summer enrichment and learning opportunities.

Enrollment was up at all levels of the summer programs, particularly for the enrichment programs offered predominantly to elementary and middle school levels.

“At the elementary level, we did have a tremendous increase in numbers,” said Courtois. “Last year, we had 119 students in all enrichment programs, while this year we had 262.”

The district initially offered 21 enrichment programs for the summer, three of which were traditional programs offered in the past, including art, musical theater and zumba.

“Of the 18 new courses we offered, 12 of them ran,” said Courtois. “The other six we offered we put out in the brochure to all elementary and middle school students, but they didn’t quite catch enough enrollment.”

However, of the three most popular programs offered over the summer, two of them were new this year.

At the top of the list was Salem Explores, which saw 77 students take part in at least one of the four weeks it was offered.

The program replaced the traditional summer reading and math programs offered by the district in the past. Courtois said it was a multi-dimensional academic program that included arts and crafts and field trips along with reading and math exercises.

A beginning woodworking class was also a big hit with students, as was the traditional musical theater program.

This year, the musical theater program put on a production of “Annie” that was attended by more than 300 people.

Courtois said there were some tweaks to the more traditional summer school programs at the middle school and high school.

In the middle school, the district used software that helped students individually progress and improve their math and reading levels.

“It was a very successful group of students and they all showed progress,” said Courtois. “A number of students were encouraged to attend, some were required to attend, and several parents said their students needed something during the summer.”

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