Each summer, Marlinton Elementary School remains open as the base for Energy Express – an eight week reading and nutrition program.
Elementary age students spend time improving their writing and reading skills, as well as finding time for fun activities including skits and art projects.
Led by coordinator Dustin Lambert, a group of community members and colleges students – Trisha Circosta, Tessa Himelrick, Alex Griffith, Casey Griffith and Cassidy Rao – Energy Express helps students maintain their knowledge in the summer months as well as giving them time to socialize with classmates.
“It’s definitely not a summer school,” Rao said. “We don’t want to make it ‘school.’ We want to make it fun for the kids and so they can keep up their knowledge level. The ‘summer slack’ – they lose all their information over three months – so working with these kids every day, they keep up their reading skills and their writing skills.”
Rao, who plans to be a teacher after she graduates college, said she has seen improvement in her group’s reading and writing skills.
“I’ve sort of focused on the reading and writing because I know my kids struggle a little bit with it,” she said. “I’ve seen some serious improvements from day one with one-on-one reading with the kids.”
Rao isn’t the only future teacher in the group. Both Himelrick and Casey Griffith plan to enter the education system.
“I’m going to be an elementary teacher and special ed major, so I did this for experience, pretty much,” Himelrick said. “It’s been an experience-and-a-half. We do a lot of interesting art projects and stuff. It’s been a blast.”
Along with assisting young students, Energy Express has helped Himelrick broaden her horizons in the lessons she taught.
“We do these graphic organizers and that helps them identify the story right off and keep the events straight when they are reading,” she said. “They do writing. We do recreation; drama, which is new to me because I’m not really great at drama. They help me out on that.”
Griffith’s students also focused on reading and writing in fun and unique ways.
“We have five new words every day from the book we read,” she said. “They each have their own journals that they write in, and I try to do that every other day. We do a lot of writing.”
The students also showed their theatrical flare with their own twist on a Christmas classic.
“We had a spirit week when we had Christmas in July and my class wanted to rewrite ‘The Night Before Christmas’ to make it ‘The Night Before Energy Express,’” Griffith said. “So we did that play for everybody.”
Last week, Energy Express held an Open House with games, art projects and food for families to enjoy and experience what the students worked on this summer.
Energy Express is supported by the West Virginia University Extension Service in conjunction with Volunteer West Virginia, AmeriCorps and West Virginia Department of Education and The Arts.