Gorman's Bridge Program Offers Summer Enrichment
By EMILY GUEVARA
As a small group of students sat around tables painting landscapes and still lifes, art teacher Lisa McGehee assessed their work.
"These are coming along really well," Ms. McGehee said as she looked at some of the pieces.
The students were part of a summer watercolor class at Bishop T.K. Gorman Regional Catholic School. In one week they learned how to use brush strokes, tools, and washes to create different compositions.
The class is just one of 17 summer programs offered at Gorman this year.
For at least a decade, Gorman has had its Summer Bridge Program, in which area students can take academic, artistic and/or athletic courses.
It is one of many area schools to offer summer camps that go beyond sports alone to help students learn and grow during the summer break.
"The idea of the Summer Bridge (is) it's supposed to be both academic and enrichment activities with the student," Summer Bridge director Lonnie Glosson said.
This year, Gorman offered eight classes, four sports camps and five book clubs. Classes included woodlands survival, foundations in personal finance, watercolor and pottery workshop.
"It's a nice way to get to do something, to explore something that you haven't done before or if you have done it before, take it to a different level," Ms. McGehee said of the program.
Glosson taught a Civil War course called "Brother Against Brother."
The weeklong class concluded with an overnight trip to Vicksburg, Miss., to visit the battlefield site and other historical locations.
"It kind of gives teachers the chance to share what their interests are," Glosson said. "The kids that end up taking the classes just really seem to get into what they're doing."
At Grace Community School, students could choose from almost 30 camps including those that touch on the arts, academics and sports.
"The No. 1 goal at our school is teaching Jesus," summer camp coordinator Tom Alden said. "The camps allow our camp directors just a different avenue to do that that you don't normally get during an average school day."
Alden, who teaches eighth-grade American history and coaches men's soccer during the school year, said high school students get involved and help out with the camps and they get to apply things they are learning about their faith, sports and life when working with the younger children.
"It's kind of neat to see, as a high school coach myself, teaching Jesus to them on the soccer field during soccer season and then (watching) them turn around and doing the same things to the elementary kids during soccer camp," he said.
Alden said the program offerings entirely depend on who is willing to step up and teach a camp. Among this year's options are sewing camp, woodworking camp and phonetic skills for reading and spelling.
He said there are more than 600 registrants for the camps though some of those are students participating in multiple camps.
All Saints Episcopal School had more than 30 camp offerings this year. Athletic director Eddie Francis, who oversees the summer camps, said in an statement that he expects more than 400 students to participate this year.
Although the school has been offering summer camp programs for more than 20 years, it offers a wider array of camps today than it did in the past, Francis said.
This year's options encompass academics, arts and crafts, athletics, cheerleading, debate, fine arts, photography, reading and strength and conditioning.
"We try to offer camps that will provide students positive experiences that will help them grow in all aspects of life," Francis said.
Students said they enjoy the programs because they're fun and it keeps them busy during the summer months.
"It gives me something productive to do," said Chloe McKinley, 12, who participated in Gorman's watercolor camp.
Dr. Nancy Pusser, mother to three children who attended Gorman's Summer Bridge program, said as a working mom it can be difficult to find activities for children during the summer.
Although many schools and colleges offer summer programs, some aren't open for older students, she said.
Two of her children participated in Summer Bridge last year and really enjoyed it so she brought them back this year. She said her 13-year-old son participated in the Civil War course and her two daughters, 9 and 11, participated in the pottery class.
"What I do is try to find activities that (are) fun and that they enjoy," Dr. Pusser said.
The camps at All Saints, Gorman and Grace are open to all children, even those who do not attend those schools.
The Brook Hill School also offered 18 camps this year including sports camps, ACT/SAT Prep, visual arts, music theater and math and science.