Why would anyone go to school if they didn’t have to? If given the choice between optional summer school and three free months to do whatever they choose, most kids would pick the latter. I joined the students and staff of the Truman Learning Center on their trip to Engler Park, just one of the weekly adventures scheduled this summer, to figure out what results they are getting from summer school classes.

As the classes walk the green trails through the park, one boy warns another of the poison ivy at the end of his outstretched arm. Kids clumsily follow another, guided by their teacher. They finally reach the playground, where the kids are released, the smiles widening and the giggles increasing.

When the kids were all seated under the pavilion, they were instructed to place a piece of paper over a leaf and color on the paper to reveal the pattern of the leaf. They each chose a different size of leaf and used different colors to create the design. I walked around to look at the kids’ work, when I started speaking to a little boy named Lane. His favorite activity that they do in summer school is “Crafting!” he said as he scribbled on his paper. He also said that he loved the field trips. “We went to the library last week!” he told me excitedly. When I asked him his favorite thing that they’ve learned this summer, he replied with a quick “The rain experiment!” This was a popular answer among every child I spoke to. “One of the things we are learning about is weather,” said Mrs. Stobart, “and the rain activity was a favorite,”.

The experiment consists of filling cups half full of water, topping them with shaving cream, and putting drops of food coloring on top. At the end of the experiment, the drops of food coloring travel through the shaving cream and mix with the water, because of the varying densities of the substances. This demonstrates how water falls from the clouds in our atmosphere. “The kids had a lot of fun with it!” said Mrs. Stobart.

I then spoke to the teachers to figure out what summer school really does in improving the way the kids at Truman actually learn. First I spoke to Mrs. Berry, and asked her how summer school is beneficial. “When these kids start a new school,” she said, “it can be scary. Coming to school in the summer gets them used to the building and makes them feel more comfortable and safe.” To her, it is all about making the children feel more at peace in their environment.

When I asked Mrs. Stobart the same question, she replied with, “I think it’s important because of all of the activities we do that we wouldn’t usually do in the school year. We take more trips, it is less strict, and we get to do more than in a regular school day.” Her view was interesting, and a perspective that the kids agreed with. When I asked what their favorite thing to do at summer school was, one student said, “when we get to go outside and go on trips.” The students notice the difference, and they soak it all in. I spoke with a girl named Camille, who said, “I love making new friends here.” When I asked her what she was learning, she said, “To love and care.”

If summer school affects the children at Truman this much, it can affect so many around the world on the same way. Why would anyone go to school if they didn’t have to? For the lessons, the experience, and most importantly to the kids, to have fun!

Summer school for Farmington runs through Friday.

Chloe Crouch is a sophomore at Farmington High School and participates in the school's summer photojournalism course.

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