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Giving students a head start on the school year

  • August 27, 2023September 4, 2023

For the first time since the early 2000s, Vecinos Unidos (VU) held a free summer program for students in our organization. 

The summer program gives students a head start on academics prior to the new school year, and exposes them to new places in the community — providing hands-on learning opportunities outside the classroom. 

This year’s summer program took place Monday, August 14 through Friday, August 18.

Each day, students worked on math, reading, and writing with the help of our volunteers. The students also took daily field trips to learn and experience new things about technology, nature, history, and fitness. They were so enthusiastic and joyful about the field trips, and ended each day excited to come back tomorrow.

Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum – On the first day of camp we took a trip to the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum. At the field trip we learned about different types of flight, from airplanes to helicopters to gliders. The students were very interested in one of the highlights of the museum, Blackbird. We even got to see the Discovery space shuttle and other space technology. It was exciting to see the evolution of flight through history pointing out big, small, old, and new aircrafts. Back at the NRC, we got our gears turning by refreshing our math fact knowledge, reading, and writing about our summer break.

Sterner’s Tae Kwon Do Academy – Tuesday was another exciting day. We started with our academics and began to think about strategies for planning our writing. This helped students organize their thoughts and ideas into a complete narrative, which we will utilize throughout the year.  We also took a trip to Sterner’s Tae Kwon Do Academy. Students learned some kicks and blocks, but also learned the five tenets of taekwondo: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control and indomitable spirit. This trip was a blast! The students ended the day with huge smiles on their faces, and they all wanted to go back.

Cub Run Park – During our tutoring sessions we brainstormed some new adjectives to enhance our writing and practiced making predictions based on our reading. These exercises embraced everyone’s creativity. After our academics, it was time for us to take a nature walk at Cub Run Rec Center. There we learned about animals and their habitats. We even got to see a deer! Students flipped logs and stayed on the lookout for cool plants and animals. It was a really imaginative day.

Sportrock Sterling – On Thursday, students conquered their fears and went rock climbing at Sportrock in Sterling. Despite some of the kids being scared, everyone conquered their fears! This trip boosted their confidence and gave them a one of a kind experience. We also spent some time reviewing the strategies and concepts we practiced on the previous days of camp in order to produce a cohesive story.

Ellanor C. Lawrence Park – To bring summer camp to a close we went to Ellanor C Lawrence Park. The staff at Ellanor C. Lawrence taught the students how to investigate characteristics of a pond habitat. They collected aquatic insects at Walney Pond and learned about how humans affect water quality and aquatic habitats. The kids had fun learning about the plants and animals in the pond with our tour guide Justin! They used strainers to catch critters and found some cool insects.

And summer camp is a wrap! Thank you to the supportive community that was able to provide these exciting and enriching field trips to the kids, and Floris United Methodist church for providing a bus to bring us to the field trips.

VU has tirelessly been working to implement new strategies and procedures to improve our program, and the new year is finally here. Can’t wait to see what the year brings!

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