Who knew learning could be so much fun?

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Jackson students are learning "All about Missouri" in their lessons.

By Callie Clark ~ Southeast Missourian

They're racing snails and worms in Scott City.

They're making maps out of cookie dough and building birdhouses in Jackson.

It's a side of education students rarely glimpse during the regular school year -- one that allows them to completely relax and have fun learning, without the threat of tests and report cards looming over their heads.

Summer school is in session, and local students and teachers are having a blast.

"It's lots more fun than normal school, and there's no homework to worry about," said 8-year-old Lacy Burnette, a summer school student at South Elementary in Jackson. "And we get to do lots of cool stuff."

The theme, "All About Missouri," has Jackson first-graders shooting down invisible rapids ala Lewis and Clark in a 20-foot green canoe; while straw hats transform third-graders into giggling Tom Sawyers at South Elementary.

Method to their madness

Fifth graders at Scott City Elementary can tell you what happens when Gobstoppers candies are dipped in vinegar or club soda, and they've also learned how to make homemade applesauce.

"It's all been very neat," said 11-year-old Kaitlyn Twidwell, a Scott City fifth grader. "It's my fifth year of summer school, and I love it."

Teachers say there is a definite method to summer school madness.

"Kids think they're playing, but they're also learning and socializing," said Nancy Thompson, a kindergarten teacher participating in the summer school program at South Elementary. "And what's great is it's all meaningful to them."

And let's not forget the field trips.

Students are traveling everywhere from Indian burial grounds to bowling alleys and movie theaters as part of their summer school experience.

"I definitely liked the field trips best," said Ashley Kennedy, a Scott City fifth grader. "We learn a lot, and it's fun."

Most local school districts operate half-day summer school programs that last around two weeks. This year the Jackson school district is offering a special reading summer school for elementary students struggling in that subject, as well as a math academy for Jackson Middle School students.

"Kids want to be here," said teacher Sherry Ford. "It's more laid back, and most kids work so hard I don't have to do anything."

Pounding hammers and swishing paint brushes are common sounds in Ford's classroom these days as her math academy students build wooden bird houses.

It's been a labor of both love and pain for the students, some of whom had never held a hammer before. Bruised fingers and bent nails serve as evidence of their hard work.

"They thought it would be easy, but it's been a challenge measuring all of the angles and putting it together," Ford said. "I think most of them are proud of what they've done."


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