Special to the Independent
Bigger and better. That is the easiest, most effective way to describe the summer programming introduced this month by the Everett Public Schools for all grades.
While high schoolers are also benefiting from a wide array of new offerings, for the first time, the district is offering K-8 academic programs at multiple schools, as well as enrichment opportunities in music, technology, fitness and athletics, chess, languages, and arts. This gives families greater flexibility, and students more chances to reconnect with their classmates after the tumultuous 2020-2021 school year. All programs are free and include breakfast, lunch, and snacks. This is a tremendous enhancement from previous years, when there was academic enrichment available at one school only.
This summer’s five-week academic program (July 6-August 6) runs Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Keverian, Lafayette, Parlin, and Whittier Schools. More than 753 students registered and total daily attendance at the four schools ranges from 550 to 600 students. Instruction is offered in reading, math, science, and social studies, but the focus is on having fun and giving the students the chance to interact with their teachers and classmates after a year defined by separation and interruption.
“I commend the Superintendent and her staff for maximizing our financial and staffing resources to offer a meaningful experience for our students,” said School Committee Chairperson Frank Parker. “This is precisely the kind of ambition we need to exhibit on behalf of our students and families.”
Each school has a site coordinator for the summer. Gabrielle Grimaldi is in charge at the Keverian, Alessandro Cornelio at the Parlin, Courtney Anderson at the Lafayette, and Cara Fidalgo at the Whittier. Classes are taught by EPS educators, and EPS teachers and staff are offering the majority of the enrichment opportunities. Teachers were provided a budget to purchase grade-appropriate learning materials that are educational and engaging. (An entirely separate line up of camps, partnerships, and enrichment opportunities is being run exclusively at Everett High School.)
“You can see, hear, and feel genuine enjoyment among our students and staff when visiting our schools and classrooms,” says Superintendent Priya Tahiliani. “My thanks to all of our teachers who are making this summer experience so successful.”
Based on an initial view of enrollment and attendance figures, the expansion to the Lafayette, Parlin, and Whittier schools is proving to be popular with those communities. At the Parlin, for example, at least 80 percent of the summer students attend the Parlin during the school year. Similar percentages are being reported at the Lafayette and Whittier.
“It’s clear that a significant percentage of our summer students are participating because it is offered at their home school,” the Superintendent said. “Families are understandably comfortable with their student’s teachers, principals, and assistant principals — not to mention their proximity to the building itself. This experience is showing us that a school-based approach is very useful in developing summer, afterschool, and enrichment opportunities.”
Also new this year is an array of one-week programs for students in grades 3-12, which are a great way for families to supplement the academic sessions. Sports and fitness offerings include yoga, creative movement, basketball, baseball, tennis, field hockey, volleyball and soccer camps. Students can also choose from Chess Wizards, a French language and culture class, arts and crafts, and painting. The EPS Music Department is also holding a wide range of camps this summer, including percussion, junior band, snare drumming, and wind instruments.
Locations for these programs are spread across the district and city, from Everett High, to elementary schools, to Glendale, Rossetti and 7 Acre parks. Some of the camps were offered in late June, before the July 6 academic program began. Many others will be offered throughout the remainder of July, beginning at 1 p.m., after students have lunch following the conclusion of summer classes.
“This is all about leveraging our talented and dedicated teachers and coaches to offer choices and variety to our students, and at no cost to our families,” said Superintendent Tahiliani. “Again, tremendous thanks is due to all of our staff members who are providing these opportunities, even after what I know has been a challenging and exhausting school year. Our educators continue to be champions and heroes in this community, and I am overwhelmed by their boundless energy and unwavering commitment to students and families.”
The summer of ‘21 has also seen the EPS forge a partnership with the Everett Haitian Community Center, which is offering French, music, and dance classes at the Parlin School to 51 students from all over the district. “Reverend Myrlande DesRosiers and the EHCC are a positive and vibrant presence in our schools, one we hope to expand upon as soon as possible,” said Superintendent Tahiliani.
The district’s summer programming will end during the first week of August, after which EPS leadership will perform a thorough review of feedback from site coordinators and teachers. “This summer has been a great beginning of our new refreshing approach to summer learning,” Superintendent Tahiliani concluded. “As always, we will make any necessary adjustments and seize on any and all opportunities for growth.”