“I never thought summer school would be this fun!” said a Berlin Middle School 7th Grade student.
“I thought we would be just sitting around doing catch up work, but we have been cooking, learning through living history and going on great field trips.”
The 2023 Berlin Central School District’s Summer Academy and Enrichment programs have wrapped up, and many of the Mountaineers shared similar reactions to this year’s summer programs.
The programs were held at both the Elementary School, where there was a general education and a special education program, and at the Middle High School, where a summer academy and enrichment programs were offered.
Summer Academy Principals Ms. Amy Ferullo (BMHS) and Ms. Jodi Cataldo (BES) were delighted to observe the students and staff engagement throughout the summer. They especially appreciated the hands-on learning and participation that happened during the activities.
“It was so exciting to see our students enthusiastic and engaged in summer school learning,” said Ms. Ferullo
Berlin Elementary Summer Academy
For students in Kindergarten through 5th Grade at BES’ programs, Ms. Cataldo created weekly themes, for which Summer Academy Science teacher Mrs. Walsh then created exciting hands-on experiments.
“Under the Sea” week hosted fishing activities, sand writing, jellyfish crafts and science labs: floating, sinking and water cycle models. During “Outer Space” week, students “read under the stars,” created water rockets and launched them. They also played outer space games with School Resource Officer Deputy Mr. Austin McGuire.
“Jungle (Safari)” week was celebrated with animal safari relays, binocular building and many jungle animal activities. Science breakout of the book Habitat Hangout activities were also a fun way to engage the Mountaineers. “Olympic Games” was the theme for week four and included sports bingo, pennant crafts, balloon tennis and skeletal system models and reaction time activities in science. To wrap up the BES Summer Academy themes the final week was themed around “Camping” with campfire stories and designing and engineering a tent to keep campers dry in a rainstorm.
Extended School Year
Extended School Year (ESY) is a special education instructional program provided during July and August to help students reach their Individual Education Plan goals. Berlin’s program differs from general education summer school in some of its instructional goals. However, the students participated in all the themed week activities set by the Summer Academy for a fun and rewarding summer experience.
Berlin Elementary ESY
Elementary ESY teacher, Mrs. Jamie Fleming was excited by the themes this summer. She said they work well in her classroom during the school year as well.
“The kindergarten through second grade ESY students loved learning about the rainforest and safaris, creating fun projects and learning about different animal characteristics,” said Mrs. Fleming.
“The students did a great job!”
Berlin Elementary Summer Academy teachers agreed that themes were a great way to incorporate fun activities while working on literacy and numeracy. There was a consensus when talking with the BES staff that the growth this summer was exponential. The opportunity to offer a robust summer program will benefit the district long term.
BMHS ESY Program
During the Berlin Middle High School ESY program students were engaged, happy and proud of all they accomplished this summer. A special event each Friday was when the students cooked or baked and invited everyone in the building to join them and enjoy their culinary creations.
“Students had a wonderful time learning life skills and communicating with peers and staff within the building,” shared Ms. Annette Bell, BMHS ESY teacher.
Berlin Middle High School Summer Academy – 8-12 Grades
During the general education Summer Academy for grades 8 through 12, students had good attendance and were successful in completing their credit recovery courses. In mid-August regents exams were proctored for United States History, Global Studies, Living Environment, and English and Language Arts.
Summer Enrichment for 6th and 7th Grades
Summer Enrichment for 6th and 7th graders offered programs to enhance learning in both literacy and math through fun and engaging activities. Students were able to enroll in one or all five weeks of enrichment. The weekly themes were: Living History, Intramural Sports #1, Culinary Arts, Intramural Sports #2 and Museums and Virtual Reality Exploration.
“The purpose of summer school for grades 6 and 7 was to increase literacy and numeracy skills through hands-on activities and literature,” said Mrs. Ariel Gilbert, 6th-grade English and Language Arts teacher.
The 6th and 7th graders were immersed in Revolutionary War history, analyzing and writing about original source information, and learning hands-on sewing in an encampment on the last day of the session at the Bennington Battlefield.
During the encampment students set up tents, played Revolutionary time period games, and cooked over an open hearth. They learned first-hand about the August 16, 1777, decisive victory for the Patriot forces of General John Stark.
“I believe in bringing a hands-on interactive approach to the classroom,” said Mrs. Katie Brownell, this summer’s 6th and 7th Grade “Living History” teacher.
Part of the program focused on literacy and numeracy skills through a sports theme. This was a great opportunity to work on sportsmanship as well and included a field trip to Jiminy Peak’s Outdoor Adventure Park.
“Summer enrichment through the lens of sports was a great way to see our youth working together and growing as athletes,” said Berlin Athletic Director and Summer Academy teacher Mr. Jason McFall.
“It gave space for them to blossom this upcoming school year.”
For one week, the theme was culinary. Students read and discussed articles about food waste, how much is wasted, why there is waste and what we can do to reduce it. As part of the readings and discussions math skills were incorporated, strengthening multiplication facts and working with percentages. Motivation for participation was cooking with Ms. Karen Day! Students made Venezuelan cachapas (kah-cha-pas) and potato chips. Find Ms. Day’s Venezuelan Cachapas recipe that the students made below!
1 Box of Corn Muffin Mix
1 can creamed corn
1 TB melted butter
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Cook as you would cook pancakes in a pan or griddle. Serve hot with butter and syrup or jams OR use as bread or a tortilla for sandwiches or tacos.
Summer Enrichment’s final week was spent exploring different museums through literature and virtually visiting museums using Virtual Reality headsets. The students went on a field trip to the Berkshire Museum to see artifacts discussed in class. One was the ancient Egyptian Mummy, Pahat.
“Summer Academy was well-attended and successful. On most days, you could walk past the filled classroom, watching students engaging in their learning goals for the day,” said Mrs. Gilbert.
The Berlin administration thanks the dedicated transportation, food service, support and teaching staff who made the 2023 Summer Academy, Enrichment and ESY programs such a success. Their dedication helped continue personal growth for many Mountaineers this summer.