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Granite Quarry hosts combats summer slide with ‘Thinking Thursdays’

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Stephanie Gray, third grade teacher and summer programs coordinator at Granite Quarry Elementary, talks to Nala Lark, left, and Keianna Walker, right, as they work to put the events of a story they read in the proper order. Rebecca Rider/Salisbury Post

GRANITE QUARRY — It’s summer, but the media center at Granite Quarry Elementary School is full of children. They sit in small groups, organizing a list of events from a book they read earlier in the day.

Many come for a free meal, dropped off by parents or walking up the sidewalks from the quiet streets and houses that encircle the school. But while they’re here, teachers are determined that they’ll learn.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, the school opens its doors to provide food for those who need it and to combat “summer slide.”

Stephanie Gray, summer programs coordinator at the school, said  “Science Tuesdays” and “Thinking Thursdays,” as they’ve come to be known, started three years ago when educators noticed just how much knowledge students were losing over the summer.

“We would have them losing two or three reading levels per summer,” she said.

When the school became a site for the district’s Summer Feeding Program three years ago, Gray and others saw an opportunity. Instead of just hosting a quick, free meal, the school invites students to stay for several hours. Roughly 30 students come each Tuesday and Thursday throughout the summer for a little bit of food and fun.

On Tuesdays, they partner with nearby Christiana Lutheran Church and run science experiments. On Thursdays, students study a book and work on puzzles and activities designed to boost reading ability and get them thinking.

At the end of the day on Thursdays, students are sent home with a copy of the book and a packet of games and activities to complete throughout the week. If they bring the packet back the next Thursday, Gray gives them a prize.

Christiana Lutheran provides materials for the science experiments, and Thursday’s materials are paid for by Granite Quarry’s Title I funding.

It’s a simple enough design, but Gray said the school has solid data from the past two summers that the program works.

“They would leave on reading level and they would come back on reading level,” she said of the students.

The Tuesday-Thursday “camps” also provide a summer activity for families who aren’t able to send their children to paid summer camps.

“It’s allowing them to have that needed outlet,” Gray said.

Each week has a theme — from ice cream to beach day — that allows the students to cut loose a little and enjoy summer — whether that’s enjoying some ice cream or spreading a beach towel on the floor of the media center.

“So that makes it even more fun,” Gray said.

Students said they like the activities because they are fun but provide a challenge.

Activity days aren’t just open to Granite Quarry students. Like the Summer Feeding Program, children of all ages are welcome. Some students bring older siblings or friends who have spent the night. Gray said they’ve had children in kindergarten through sixth or seventh grade participate.

“They love it,” she said with a smile.

And when they come to the summer programs, Gray calls the students “friends.”

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

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