SALAMANCA — Students in the Salamanca City Central School District have the opportunity to remain mentally active this summer with several programs offered by the school.

From Camp Scholar and STEAM Camp to the Great School Book Delivery, the district is doing what it can to combat the summer slide, which is the tendency for students to lose some of their achievement gains made during the previous school year, over the 10-week break.

“We have expanded (the programs) significantly in order to have more students have access,” explained Dr. Mark Beehler, the assistant superintendent for academics services.

Beginning July 9, Camp Scholar offers free academic programs for students between kindergarten and sixth grade that infuses science, math and ELA activities with an exploration hour.

“We want to offer what essentially comes down to year-round instruction for our students,” Beehler said, “so there’s no reason we can’t do that over the summer.”

Camp Scholar runs from 8:30 a.m. to noon, Monday through Thursday, until Aug. 2. Students entering fourth through sixth grade this fall attend camp at Seneca, and students entering kindergarten through third grade go to Prospect.

“We’ve tried to make everything very hands-on for the kids,” said Prospect Elementary principal Gayle Pavone. “A lot of the math is learning through games and we’re making sure to continue to have them read so we don’t have that summer slump.”

Beehler said one of the big additions to this year’s Camp Scholar was transportation services with district busses for students who otherwise could not get to the school, which has greatly increased attendance.

Pavone said there were about 60 kids signed up at Prospect and 35 at Seneca for the week of July 16.

“They could sign up for any week they were available,” Pavone explained, adding that students could attend just one week or all four. “We tried to make it flexible for families.”

At the camp, students go through a rotation of instructional classes and then participate in an hour of exploration. For exploration, they can choose from a variety of topics, such as science, sewing, reader's theater, basketball, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) challenge and more.

“It keeps the kids’ love for learning continuing during the summer months,” Pavone said. “And it decreases that summer slump we often see in regards to reading just because they’re involved in it on a more regular basis.

EDUCATIONAL SUMMER programming continues Aug. 1 with the inaugural STEAM Camp. The camp is for students in grades 5–12 looking for a summer experience that extends beyond the walls of traditional academia.

From scientific experiments to a drone flying class to a trip to Darien Lake, campers are challenged to explore their world through a interdisciplinary STEAM Lens.

Beehler said staff members had to go through various trainings for the camp. For example, he said some had to be certified as kayak instructors for a program where students will go down the Allegheny River and collect water samples.

“We’ve purchased kayaks that will be utilized by the students, and then they will be available for the community to borrow,” he said.

Beehler said initiating the new program was not only to continue helping students acquire the skills STEAM offer but as a way to meet increased interest in those fields by students. The cost is free for Salamanca residents, but space is limited.

For the first time in several years, summer school classes are taking place at district schools, Beehler said.

“We found that when we send students to other schools for the summer they don’t seem to be as successful,” he explained. “Since it’s not our teachers there, it’s not quite as efficient as it is for our own teachers to help our students get through.”

Also beginning Aug. 1, students entering grades kindergarten through 6 can expect a visit from a teacher during the annual Great School Book Delivery.

Staff members from Prospect and Seneca plan to deliver a pack of 10 books that include fun activities for students to do in preparation of classes resuming in September.

Along with their new books, students will receive their homeroom and class assignments.

All these programs help keep students engaged throughout the summer, Beehler said, particularly in math and ELA. He said it typically takes until late October or early November to get students back to where they were at the end of the previous year.

“The intent of the program is to eliminate that, because we can’t lose weeks of time in the fall in order to catch up to where they were in June,” he said. “From an education perspective, that’s the main motivating force into putting these summer programs together.”

For additional information about these programs, contact the school at 945-2400.

(Contact editor Kellen Quigley at kquigleysp@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter, @Kellen_Quigley)