DOWNEY - The Downey Adult School-sponsored Summer 101 Program, begun three years ago as the answer to the cancellation of summer school due to budget cuts, ended last week with its first open house ever, held at host West Middle School, where kids entering kindergarten through eighth grade spent four weeks attending enrichment and learning classes that ranged from, to name just a few, "Bugs (Exploration)," "Jr. Chefs," "Puzzlemania," "Animation and Cartooning," and "Spanish 101."The emphasis in all the classes, both as enrichment and as preparation for the upcoming school year, is to encourage the students to explore, problem-solve, use logical thinking, and showcase their creativity (even leadership). The program allows students to choose two of the offered courses for their summer 'curriculum.' The program is provided at minimal cost and includes two hours of before-school daycare as well as a free lunch each day after school. The teaching staff consists of credentialed teachers working for the Downey Unified School District. Enrollment includes students from DUSD as well as from surrounding cities, including private schools. Downey Adult School's Reggie Donahue, Summer 101 principal, says student enrollment has seen a steady increase every year, with many of the students attending all three years. As mentioned, the underlying emphasis of the courses has, while providing an enjoyable environment, centered on academic achievement through hands-on activities and high-interest subjects, said Donahue. Some parents attending the open house were overheard as saying, "The four-week program is too short." (True Lasting Connections even donated two scholarships for students this summer, courtesy of the "relentless support the Adult School gives TLC by ongoing fundraising efforts.") Excitement built this year as two satellite classes were added at the Columbia Memorial Space Center. The classes, "Rocks to Rockets" and "Engineering and Robotics," proved to be a great success, according to Donahue, as they introduced advanced science and math concepts in a real-world setting. Students were also able to experience NASA missions at the space center, as well as build their own rockets, which they were able to drop from the center's second-floor level. To meet the diverse interests of participants, new ideas scheduled for next year include "America's Next Top Writer," "Spanish Level 2," "Beginning Band," and "Cardiology 101." Another successful and heartwarming aspect of Summer 101, Donahue said, was the level of community involvement. Over forty students and several parents volunteered in the classrooms. The majority of volunteers were from Warren High clubs such as WHAT, Girls League and Interact. Attending the open house were DUSD school board members, administrators, as well as family members mostly from the local community.
********** Published: July 28, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 15