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Extended School Year programs successful at Waynesboro’s elementary schools

Photo courtesy Waynesboro Public Schools.

William Perry Elementary, Berkeley Glenn Elementary and Wenonah Elementary are excited to highlight the success of their Extended School Year (ESY) programs.

The Waynesboro Schools initiatives are designed to foster creativity, critical thinking, and hands-on learning in a variety of innovative ways.

William Perry Elementary is hosting a Summer Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEAM) Camp in collaboration with Juice Works 3D from Harrisonburg. The camp teaches students how to use computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D print their creations. The first week of camp ran May 28 through 31, with subsequent sessions June 3 to 6 and June 10 to 13, 2024.

“We’re all so impressed with how quickly the kids at camp have picked up the CAD design skills they’re being taught. This has been a wonderful experience,” said Lindsey Britt, William Perry special education teacher, who also serves as ESY program coordinator, along with William Perry school counselor, Brandon Poole.

Juice Works 3D is equally excited about the partnership.

“The opportunity for Juice Works 3D Innovation Academy to partner with Waynesboro Public Schools to bring 3D printing summer STEM camp to their participating rising 4th and 5th grade students, and staff, is a beautiful example of how we help our community learn to innovate. The innovative spirit of Waynesboro Public schools, and their decision to invest in their students by providing them with this 3D printing summer STEM camp opportunity, allows us to accelerate their exposure to an innovation mindset, design-thinking, and digital skill sets which in turn will provide their students a competitive advantage in their studies, and in the impact they will make in their community with the STEM skills they learn, for years to come,” Andrei Dacko, founder and CEO of Juice Works, said.

Berkeley Glenn Elementary recently completed its first ever four-day Eco Club Summer Camp in cooperation with the Waynesboro Education Farm (WEF). The Eco Club began in the spring semester of 2022 with 18 students in grades 4 and 5, aiming to explore, design and develop outdoor learning spaces on the Berkeley Glenn campus. The club has grown to 35 students, or 13 percent of the student population.

“This has been three years in the planning, and that long lead time has given us the opportunity to run after school clubs each semester. During those clubs, we learned more and more about what we wanted the kids to do and learn, and how we could best use our resources to deliver on those goals. Partnering with WEF has allowed us to expand this program to encompass much more than we initially
thought,” Danny Lee, Waynesboro Public Schools gifted education coordinator and head of the ESY grant committee for
Berkeley Glenn, said.

During the camp, students worked on constructing a cob oven, installing pollinator boxes, learning permaculture, and creating wind turbines and solar stills. They also participated in the Wildrock Stewards program in Crozet.

“The fact that we have elementary aged kids learning the concepts of permaculture, a concept by the way that is usually reserved for adults who want to build farms, is revolutionary. The impact this could have not only on these kids’ futures, but also on the future of sustainable farming is exponential,” Ryan Blosser, WEF farm educator, said.

Berkeley Glenn Principal Michael Perry said seeing the students take ownership of “their farm” was “so rewarding.”

“Agriculture is one of the most hands-on concepts to teach children; everything on their dinner plate is connected to agriculture. My hope is that some of these students will cultivate their passion and turn it into a career that will feed their families, the community, and possibly the world,” Perry said.

Wenonah Elementary STEAM Camp has been a thrilling journey for 40 students from their STEAM after school program. For six days, Wenonah students engaged in hands-on activities, including coding DASH robots, Ozoboths, exploring electrical circuits and designing marble runs that incorporate simple machines. Their camp adventures included trips to Staunton Lanes for a behind-the-scenes tour, Kings Dominion to enjoy the rides that the students had practiced making with marble runs, and various Maker Space projects that incorporated engineering design, mathematical measurements, and creative artistry. Students participated in trips to Explore More in Harrisonburg to participate in their Maker’s Space program and Amazement Square in Lynchburg to participate in their “It’s Electric!” program, where students built circuits and programmed robots. On their final day, students spent time at the Virginia Science Museum in Richmond.

“Providing these enriching experiences to our students has been a dream come true,” said Elizabeth Evans, Wenonah Elementary math Specialist, administrative designee and ESY program coordinator.

Given the success of the ESY programs, all participating schools plan to continue and expand their initiatives. William Perry, Berkeley Glenn and Wenonah elementary schools will continue to build on the momentum of their successful camps, ensuring that students have access to innovative and enriching educational experiences throughout the year.

“We are creating a pathway for students who are interested in a career involving agriculture, design and engineering, resource science, or a food career cluster. These students can continue their passion for these topics in the middle and high school programs at Kate Collins
Middle, Waynesboro High and Valley Career and Technical Center,” Perry said.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.

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