Over 100 family members, Lexington-Richland School District Five staff and members of the United Way were on hand at Harbison West Elementary School (HWES) for a learning celebration that capped off yet another successful summer reading camp for rising fourth grade students. The camp, which lasted five weeks, focused on literacy instruction for 40 students.
Each class did a presentation of their learning for their families. “I was overwhelmed with the number of family members that came to our end of camp celebration to support their child,” District Five Director of Elementary Education Michael Guliano said. “It was great to see the excitement from both the families and the students about the learning that took place over the past five weeks. I’m proud of each student for demonstrating the progress they made throughout the camp and for the quality instruction the teachers provided our students.”
Summer reading camps statewide were one of the many components of South Carolina’s Act 284, also known as Read to Succeed, which was signed into law in June 2014. Under the law, every district must identify third grade students who are not reading proficiently on grade level and provide them with the opportunity to attend a summer reading camp.
Campers were sent off in style at the celebration with brand new book bags filled with over 30 books for them to keep at home. The bags included book baskets to organize their new books and a year-long Ranger Rick subscription that will be delivered to their house. These gifts were courtesy of District Five’s partnership with the United Way of the Midlands, who provided the camp with a $10,000 grant. The money not only funded the gifts, but also two field studies, T-shirts and meals.
H.E. Corley student Ninah Powell loved every minute of her camp experience saying, “In Summer Reading Camp, I can be who I want to be. Our teachers let us read and talk. It allowed me to embrace my inner self.”
“We wanted to build on the reading growth that students made in third grade, and in order to do that we needed to keep them reading books all summer long,” lead teacher and coordinator for the camp Dr. Sally Somerall said. “Through the program, we were able to provide them with access to books that they wanted to read and books that were appropriate for their reading level. In addition to that, we provided instruction to address the needs of each reader. It’s been a tremendous benefit to these students, and we’re excited to see their progress throughout the school year.”
Educators say the camps focused on improving reading skills but also gave students tools to help them become lifelong learners. Missy Talbert, camp instructor and reading interventionist at HWES said “I was honored to participate in this year’s Summer Reading Camp and to witness first-hand the excitement and learning that occurred. To me, Summer Reading Camp is all about growing a community of learners that will share their love of learning with others.”
Harbison West Elementary School principal Ed Davis was extremely proud of the hospitality his school provided,saying “HWES was honored to have the opportunity to host the Summer Reading Camp. The students, parents and teachers did an awesome job of establishing an environment that was conductive to learning. The program serves as an example of District Five’s commitment to prepare students to ‘Pursue Excellence for Tomorrow’s Challenges.’”
Pictured: Harbison West Elementary Teacher Barbara Frederick and her class gave a presentation at the Read to Succeed Celebration.