Umatilla summer school takes aim at 'enrichment'

<p>Sonia Hantke, of OSU, talks to students about a blueberry smoothie Tuesday at McNary Heights Elementary. The nutrition class was one enrichment activity at the Umatilla School District's summer school program.</p>

With mariachi bands, applesauce pancakes and “Popeye” smoothies, the Umatilla School District’s summer school is far from the average class period.

“Our emphasis is on reading and math, but beyond that, we try to make it a little different than the regular school year by doing a lot of enrichment activities,” Summer School administrator David Lougee said Tuesday. “We’ve had a really good session. We’ve had a lot of neat things going on.”

One new feature this year was a series of nutrition classes taught by representatives of Oregon State University. The OSU teachers brought a different recipe each week — designed to teach students about incorporating different food groups into meals — and worked with every class in the summer school to craft those dishes.

Wednesday, students sample different varieties of smoothies, including one with peanut butter and one with spinach as the “secret ingredient.” A previous lesson incorporated fruit, applesauce and yogurt into pancakes.

“The nutrition classes have been really great,” Lougee said. “The kids love it.”

A representative from Girl Scouts worked with female students on self esteem and doing your best, and this year, the school is also hosting a teacher on a national exchange. Salvador Delgado, from Guanajuato, Mexico, has introduced the Umatilla students to Mexican games and toys. The teacher has even led one group of students — in first through seventh grade — in mariachi lessons. The band performed during the program open house on Friday.

The summer school also focuses primarily on Hispanic students because the service is funded about 50 percent by the migrant program. That money must go to serving migrant students, Lougee said.

“I’d love to open it up for everyone, but we have to use that funding specifically for migrant students,” he said. Although most of the students fit into elementary or middle school, the program does host some high school students as assistants.

“We have a leadership class where high school students get credit and learn about responsibility and supervision,” Lougee said. “We cover dress and appearance, putting away the cell phones and being role models for the little kids. We treat it just like it was a job. They’ve been a really responsible group this year. I’ve been very impressed.”

High school students can also participate in a credit-recovery program over the summer as well.

Lougee has led the summer school for the past five years, and 2011 marks the second year the district has hosted the program at the end of the summer instead of the beginning to help students transition to being back in school after the summer.

“We have had a few (students) we’ve had to work with on that, but that means they don’t have to do it in September,” he said. “I’m really pleased with the energy levels of the kids and the teachers. It’s going to be a big boost for the school year.”

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