By JENNIFER WADE
The After-School Cougar Enrichment Program (ACE) got off to a great start this summer. Although the program, funded by the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant, is a yearlong program, the summer program has had an average of seven to 10 students each day.
Site Coordinator Chris Saraceni explained that the program is more than simply tutoring the students. “We wanted to get past the tutoring label,” he explained. “This program is all encompassing. The student that is failing can work alongside the student that is doing well.”
For the summer program, the students have been working on using STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills to build a Jamestown fort. The students have been researching Jamestown, making posters, cooking, and building. “We’ve learned about buoyancy. They’re doing a science piece about the ships and how they got here,” Saraceni explained. “We try to incorporate every major discipline into the program so that the students can get science, math, technology, reading, writing, and even history and research, all in a program where they’re not just sitting, listening and taking notes and doing homework. So it’s a more hands on approach, and this is a good model for us to see how it works.”
Transportation is provided for the students, and Saraceni was encouraged when the summer buses not only had to take students home, but in some cases, students not enrolled in summer school programs signed up for the ACE Jamestown project. In these instances, the buses also traveled to pick the students up and bring them to school in the afternoon in order to participate.
Teachers who participate are also encouraged to get creative in their teaching methods. “If teachers want to teach geometry outside on a Frisbee golf course, great! Let’s learn about angles,” Saraceni said. “Seeing teachers be more creative is really cool.”
Saraceni explained that the goals of ACE are career readiness, academic achievement and graduation. “Students attending ACE saw significant improvement on their SOL scores.”
Plans for the fall ACE programs are underway. There will be a family night for students participating in the summer ACE program on Thursday evening from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.