Learning Opportunities Continue into Summer at Red Cloud

posted on June 20, 2013

The halls of Red Cloud Indian school might be a bit quieter this month, but don’t let that fool you. Many students return to the school during their summer vacations to study with faculty, make use of the library and prepare themselves for the coming year of classes. At 9:00 am each morning from June 6through June 28, more than 100 students commit to 6 hours of study, experiential learning and physical activity.

“Summer school offers students a relaxed learning experience where there is plenty of time to socialize with their friends,” says Bryan Steinher, a math teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School and coordinator of Lourdes’ summer school programs. The goal for Steinher and other faculty members is to minimize the ‘summer drain,’ a phenomenon that can cause students to regress academically between the end of the school year and the start of another.

With an understanding that summer school is both fun and educational, students have been eager to attend.

“The students seem to have a great time and are excited to be here,” Steinher continues. “When I go around asking who wants to go to summer school each year, nearly every kid in the lower grades wants a permission form.”

While summer school is not required and not technically part of the academic year, the teachers and coordinators involved consider it critical to maintaining and increasing the academic skills of Red Cloud students.

“This year we have partnered with GearUp and South Dakota State University’s Extension office to focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) related activities and to establish hands-on activities that engage the students in a whole mind and body kind of way,” says Ann-Marie Amiotte, who has worked as Red Cloud Elementary’s summer school coordinator since 2007.

Hands-on activities this year include a robotics class and butterfly lab.

In the high school, Clay Leonard, who has been teaching at Red Cloud for 25 years, notes that summer school is really student-driven.

“A high percentage of our students are involved in some type of summer program, whether it is summer school, Upward Bound or GearUp.  They are improving themselves all of the time to achieve the goals that they have set for themselves. [Summer school] is a great way to get the credits that they need to graduate.”

During the summer session, Red Cloud High School students take classes in English composition and literature, as well as chemistry, physical science, personal finance, world history, and algebra. In addition, each summer program provides students the opportunity to see what they have learned in action through structured field trips. This year, high school students will learn from professionals at the South Dakota Department of Fish & Game’s outdoor campus, where their sciences classes will come to life.

Photos: All Rights Reserved ©Red Cloud Indian School / Christopher Ives