There will be no “summer school” at Evanston/Skokie District 65 facilities this year. Instead, make way for “Summer Learning Experiences.”

In a letter sent to District 65 parents this week, following a presentation at Monday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Hardy Murphy said the summer program is being revamped “to present more engaging program offerings with literacy and mathematics content embedded in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education, and with a focus on student engagement and motivation and the college-career readiness standards.”

Despite the new name, there will still be the traditional programs for students who need “additional academic support,” Murphy said, yet all students will be presented with the opportunity to participate in “a summer learning experience unlike anything we have offered in the past.”

One of the major changes will be in the timing. Instead of a six-week program, the new “experience” will be four weeks in length and will be toward the end of the summer, rather than at the beginning.

For students completing grades kindergarten through six, sessions will be held July 18 to August 11 from 8:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Students completing the seventh grade will meet July 25 to August 11, from 8:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The younger students, those who have completed kindergarten through the fourth grade, will be called Adventurers. Their curriculum will involve two hours a day of “comprehension,” one hour of STEM, and an hour of Fine Arts.

Those who have completed Grade 5 will be called Pathfinders, and their day will consist of two hours of STEM, an hour of Fine/Media Arts, and an hour of “youth development.”

Students who have completed Grade 6 will be called Challengers, and they will have two hours a day of STEM and two hours of technology options, such as robotics and animations.

The older students, who have completed the seventh grade and will be enrolled in Algebra 8/Math 8, will have four hours a day of “academic youth development” through math problem-solving.

There will be no additional cost for the new programs, Murphy said, as they will be paid for by grant and district funds.

“Students will increase content knowledge, but will also learn critical thinking, problem solving, team work, communications skills, and technology skills,” Murphy wrote in a memo to the Board. “This broader approach to the learning experiences will increase student engagement and motivation for learning. The programs are designed to ensure that students develop an understanding of themselves as learners and the connection between their effort and their success.” 

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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