Summer camp focused on 'enrichment and encouragement' for students

·3 min read

Jul. 11—It's "about enrichment and encouragement, not remediation and punishment," Amanda Triplett said of this summer's learning camp for about 50 Dalton Public Schools students.

"It's for kids who maybe haven't found their place, yet, because they're shy, or they come from large families, or there's a language deficit, but they're all capable of being successful," said Triplett, the audio, visual, technology and film instructor, school publicist and webmaster at Dalton Junior High School. "We did lots of hands-on programs and activities that were exploratory so they could take skills and put them to use."

The students, a blend of those returning in 2022-23 to Hammond Creek Middle School and those moving to Dalton Junior High School, came to Brookwood School Monday-Thursday for three weeks for four hours a day in June, said Triplett, one of the teachers who assisted with the program. Classes focused on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), literacy and physical education.

Jesus Perez was lukewarm on the notion of attending an academic camp during his summer, but his outlook changed "on day one," said the rising eighth-grader. "They show you how to do stuff in a simple way."

In math, for example, teachers took the time to truly explain concepts, he said: "I learned a lot of new math skills to advance in my education."

The camp was both "fun and exciting," said rising seventh-grader Guadalupe Esquivel. "I learned new things and got to be with my friends," in addition to making new friends.

Perez noticed academic gains not only in himself but two of his friends, he said: "I've seen the growth in them, (as) they have also learned."

The students created their own podcasts, bee "hotels," video games, marshmallow towers and slime, among other projects, said teacher Keri Kirby, media specialist at Hammond Creek. "This was an awesome group, fantastic to work with."

They "came every day and were very dedicated," said fellow Hammond Creek media specialist Jessica Bramlett. "Kids benefit from anything over the summer."

Podcasting was the favorite endeavor of both Esquivel and Perez, and both want to do more.

Podcasting "really exposes you to what other people think about," Perez said. "It gives you a chance to get other opinions and" perspectives.

"You see how others think," said Esquivel, who examined the issue of bullying on school buses with her podcast. She learned bus bullying "is a problem, (but) it's hard for (the driver) to focus on driving" and try to monitor bullying at the same time.

Perez interviewed people about how they spend their money, and whether they do so wisely, he said: "I've been thinking about that since I was little."

Because the camp was well-staffed, the students benefited, Triplett said.

"We could work with kids in small groups, and you could see them blossom with that extra attention."

That's especially critical for the students who will enter Hammond Creek or the junior high this coming school year after being in the Newcomer Academy (for new-to-country students), Bramlett said.

"They got to know us (staff) and each other, which will be comforting to them" when the new year begins in August.

The students even developed video games "about how to defeat the enemies of bees," Kirby said. They also planted class plants in school and at home.

"We studied honey bees, because Brookwood School has a hive, and we wanted to use what was here," Bramlett said. Students created organic sprays to ward off predators but not harm pollinators like bees.

And "it's fantastic," Kirby said. "I took a bottle home."