Enrichment program meant to keep young minds sharp over the summer

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 22, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — Students entered a world with marshmallow earmuffs, licorice shoes and peppermint news Friday.
As fifth- and sixth-graders from Westside Community Foundation’s summer enrichment program danced and recited the words to Shel Silverstein’s poem, “If the World was Crazy,” they took the crowd through a world where you can walk on the ocean, fly through the ground and skip through the air.
The performance was part of the program’s observance of the National Summer Learning Association’s Summer Learning Day.
This year, Westside opted to blend reading and performing arts throughout the day.
“We want to make it fun for them and we want them to realize there is more than one type of learning,” instructor Roslyn Hall said.
During a program Friday, students from each grade level performed. Community members gave presentations on books, including Debbie Allen’s Dancing in the Wings, “Luran Carrick Hill’s “Dave the Potter” and Rebecca Bond’s “Bravo Maurice.”
Westside Community Foundation, in partnership with Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church, hosts the nine-week enrichment program each summer to keep students’ minds sharp while they are out of school.
“The goal of the entire program is to help our youngsters improve upon what they are already learning in school,” the Rev. Clary Phelps of Gethsemane said. “We see it as an opportunity to improve the quality of education.”
Westside Director Donnie Jefferson said the program encourages academic achievement and character development.
“Every morning we do reading, writing and math,” she said. “The kids get to have fun later in the day.”
But Phelps said reading is the foundation for all learning.
“Whatever you do, read, read, read,” he said. “You can go places in a book that you may not be able to go otherwise … pick up a good book.”
Michael Cartwright, a rising fourth-grader at Isenberg Elementary, said he enjoys diving into a book.
“You can go on so many adventures,” he said. “You can be in the jungle or solving a mystery.
Shamira Wright, a rising fifth-grader at Hanford Dole Elementary, said the program has heightened her love of reading.
“Reading is fun because you can learn and get really smart,” she said.
Mayor Susan Kluttz also attended the program Friday, bringing along with her interim Salisbury City Manager Doug Paris.
The two handed out free books to each of the children.
“I’m so excited to be here,” Kluttz said. I”m just thrilled about reading.
“One thing I think is so important is for our churches to step out of their congregations to help the community and Gethsemane has done that.”
Phelps said as the children continue to grow he hopes they will turn to books for a knowledge
“I want them to be aware and alert that learning is an everyday opportunity,” he said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.