GALLIPOLIS FERRY — The thought of being in school during the summer can be the worst case scenario in the mind of a child, but not for a small group of students at Beale Elementary School.
As part of the Planned Approach To Community Health (PATCH) program, around 15 students at Beale Elementary have been participating in this summer enrichment program with the theme “Summer school’s out of this world.” Beale Elementary School Counselor Christana Long stated this summer program has focused mainly on the solar system and outer space. Among several activities, the highlight of Wednesday was launching rockets.
Tonya Bonecutter, another instructor for the summer program, spoke on the science related topics covered in this lesson, stating the students have learned about the aerodynamics of rockets, launching angles, and how the different factors of the rockets affect the flight. During the actual launching of the rockets, which were made out of construction paper, tape, and a little bit of clay, students also paid close attention to how they launched it and how small factors played into how high the rocket would fly, such as how far down the rocket was placed on the launching tube and how much air pressure was built up, as well as whether or not any air was escaping through any holes not covered by the tape. In addition to Long and Bonecutter, other instructors for the summer program include Lorie West and Shelia Lanz.
In addition to launching rockets, students are also working on a ‘space igloo’ made from recyclable materials such as milk jugs. They have also drawn pictures of the solar system, created meteors by painting rocks, built a larger rocket out of cardboard, and also made hand prints in cement, mimicking astronaut’s footprints on the moon. The students have also learned about volcanoes in space and how they compare to volcanoes on Earth, as well as the myths and legends of how the planets got their names.
A key ingredient to the PATCH program is that the activities are hands-on. Long stated this aspect is important because the children are not only learning, but they are involved and having fun at the same time. The smaller number of students also allows them to receive more individualized attention from the teachers, and they also get to interact with children of different ages. Students in the summer program have varied from first to sixth grade, and Long stated it is a relaxed atmosphere and all the students have gotten along very well.
“I think it really helps with their socialization,” Long said about the program. “They all come together and help one another.”
Although around 15 students have been involved with this program, just like during the school year, students get sick or they have other appointments they have to attend. But also in the summer, there are other activities such as other camps and what not. The day of this interview there were six students present.
In addition to the summer program, PATCH also offers after school programs in several Mason County Schools. Long described these after school programs, stating the students get to learn about topics that are not normally covered in the normal school day. One topic for example is cooking. Long stated during the cooking classes, the students learn about accurate measurements and other aspects, and have even gotten to serve their finished products to their parents. Long also stated the after school programs also help working parents who may not be able to pick their children up at the end of the school day. The after school programs at Beale normally have around 50-60 students, according to Long.
The summer PATCH program is also being held at Roosevelt Elementary and Point Pleasant Intermediate. Throughout the school year, after school programs were held at Roosevelt, Beale, Ashton Elementary Schools, Point Pleasant Primary and Intermediate Schools, and Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High, Hannan Junior/Senior High, and Wahama Junior/Senior High Schools.