Summer school draws on land, sea

Summer school can be a real drag.

That is, if you’re cooped up in a classroom all day wishing the hours would end, or at lest bring something more exciting.

The summer school, organised by the Department of Education for George Hicks High School students and Year 10 John Gray High School students, is what most kids would wish for.

So far 100 students, who are enrolled in the From Dry Land to Deep Sea summer programme being held at the University College of the Cayman Islands, have participated in many field trips.

They’ve been on The Protector to examine different species of mangroves and collect water sample from wet areas.

They’ve taken a snorkeling trip with representatives from the National Trust.

They’ve visited the Botanic Park and Mastic Trail to identify plants and animal species. All this occurred in the first week of summer school, 12-15 July.

Students have to measure different things during each project.

They test their language arts skills when they put together the I Spy booklets, through which they report on their findings.

Other projects include investigating waste management on a small island. This is known as Let’s Reduce and Recycle and focuses on imaginative ways of recycling waste products functionally and creatively. It is hoped that the I Spy booklet is something the Ministry can use as an ecotourism guide for young people.

This is the first government summer school for high school students. It was organized as part of the Education Recovery effort, to help make up for the reduction of teaching contact time for these students, following Hurricane Ivan.

A separate programme for primary school students is also in progress.

‘Students in GHHS only received 70 per cent of their teaching entitlement due to the shift system, whilst Year 10 students at JGHS attended school every other day at the Agape Family Life Centre,’ explained Gareth Long, the Department of Education’s School Development Advisor.

Ms Lynda Mitchell is the coordinator of the programme, supervising a team of eight teachers recruited from government and private schools. She noted that as a result of the environmental theme adopted for the programme, students should ‘gain a greater appreciation of the biodiversity of our islands and preservation of the environment globally. They will also learn how humans impact the environment and explore new ideas for conserving our natural resources.’

‘The concept is to provide a fun learning environment while concentrating on the core subjects, using out-of-the-box teaching methods to reach the students. In other words, have fun and learn something new,’ she added.

Ms Mitchell said that so far the response from students has been fantastic.

‘Due to the threat of hurricane Emily we had to close on Monday, 18th July students were calling us to see when school would reopen,’ she said.

Minister of Education Alden McLaughlin, applauded the Department for its innovative efforts:

‘The students have had a trying time lately but I believe this programme allows them to have fun while enforcing key messages and developing important skills.’

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