- Sponsorship -

Kentwood Students Make Gains in Learning While Having Fun in ARCH Summer Program

Soon-to-be fifth graders Amaree James, Jerreh Saidykhan and Jordan Steffen dug for a buried clue in the dusty dirt of Meadowlawn Elementary School’s baseball diamond during Kentwood Public Schools’ ARCH summer program’s scavenger hunt. Around them, classmates searched the playground for jars, matchbox cars, pencils and even sneakers, all items on the list of treasures.

Inside the school, students twisted T-shirts, tying them tight with rubber bands before dipping them into buckets filled with brightly hued water to create tie-dye patterns. Other groups made bookmarks with paper and markers and polished off lunch.

The district’s 1,116 students enrolled in the six-week enrichment program are beefing up their knowledge before heading back to school in September and having a good time doing it. The “fun stuff” followed a morning of academics including math, reading, writing and science.

“The stuff I didn’t learn and understand in school they teach us here,” said Amaree. “Now when I go back to school I get to do the things more easily.”

The ARCH program, which stands for Academics, Recreation, Community and Health, combines summer fun with class time to reach Kentwood students and keep them busy and learning during the months when proficiency levels can easily slide backward.

“The entire intent is to address the gap in learning students experience and get them caught up,” said Michael Pickard, executive director of elementary instruction and federal programs for Kentwood Public Schools.Jerreh Saidykhan learns fractions with pizza slices

Academic gains are most evident in reading, he said. 

“Just in the summer months last year, some students made gains of three to four months (in grade-level reading proficiency) after attending summer school and ARCH,” Pickard said.

Academics, Field Trips and Fun

Students start each morning with two hours of regular summer school, funded by federal and state grants for at-risk students, which rolls into ARCH: another hour of academics, followed by lunch and afternoon enrichment activities or field trips run and funded by a federal grant.

“My focus is to broaden their horizons,” said Andrew Judson, site coordinator at Meadowlawn Elementary School, where about 50 students attend the program.

During the school year, ARCH runs as an after-school program Monday through Thursday. Field trips and activities. Clubs within the ARCH program include Photography, CSI and Cooking Club.

The program, in its sixth year, recently expanded to five new Kentwood Public School sites for a total of 15 sites. It now operates at all elementary, middle school, and at East Kentwood High School and Crossroads Alternative High School. Four to six staff members operate out of each site.

Previously funded through grant money that expired in June, Kentwood Public Schools recently received funding to allow the program to continue and expand. The 21st Century Community Learning Center grants–$2.25 million is earmarked through next year– allocated by Michigan Department of Education, flow from the U.S. Department of Education to the states. New sites include Discovery, Challenger, Explorer and Endeavor elementary schools and Pinewood Middle School.

“They get the academic hours but get the enrichment things as well,” Pickard said. “These are the students that learn differently, who have different learning styles. They enjoy it, even though it’s 80 degrees and sunny.”

Student Paw Hser Gay works on academicsStudents said ARCH gives them the chance to take field trips to Frederik Meijer Garden, area parks, a recycling center, Grand Rapids Public Museum and Craig’s Cruisers, places many of them haven’t been before. Several students who have recently immigrated to the United States and attend the district’s English as a Second Language Newcomers Centers at Crestwood Middle and Meadowlawn Elementary schools participate in the program.

“In the summer we try to make it like a summer camp,” said Assistant Project Director Becki Barrenger, rattling off activities that engage the students including pottery, music, dance fitness, and science activities taught by local professionals.

“They do fun stuff and they care for us and make sure we are always safe,” said Rayvin Glover, a third grader. They make it easier for us to understand and if we need help they will help us in different ways.”

CONNECT

21st Century Community Learning Centers

ARCH Program

- Sponsorship -
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

LATEST ARTICLES

Students pair up to overcome challenges

When the COVID-19 pandemic closed some doors, a window opened to a new partnership between Grand Rapids Community College’s Occupational Therapy Assistant students and college-aged adults diagnosed with intellectual disabilities...

Entrepreneur, philanthropist, third-grader

This student leader wants everyone to be included...

Career education expert takes on new Kent ISD assistant superintendent position

Amid COVID-19, Sue Gardner took on a brand new role as Kent ISD assistant superintendent helping to administer and support the existing high school programs and help start new ones...

Fourth-grade hockey fan gets a magical hour on ice: ‘I made the shot!’

Raised as a Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins hockey fan, Jackson Solow lights up while skating on an ice rink wearing his favorite hockey jersey...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Superintendent announces retirement after 33 years serving Kentwood community

Superintendent Michael Zoerhoff this week announced he will retire at the end of the school year, June 30...

Schools in nine districts announce closures as COVID cases spike

New temporary school building closures were announced by nine school districts in Kent ISD this week, as schools contend with a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Kent County and Michigan...
- Sponsorship -

HOW'S SCHOOL TODAY?

Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...

RADEMACHER & FRIENDS

Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -

MEDIA PARTNERS

Maranda Where You LiveWGVU

SUSTAINING SPONSORS