[caption id="attachment_13263" align="alignleft" width="600"]<a href="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2016\/08\/SS-Energy-Express-2.jpg"><img src="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2016\/08\/SS-Energy-Express-2.jpg" alt="At the Energy Express Open House, Tessa Himelrick helped students make triangular dreamcatchers with popsicle sticks, string and beads. S. Stewart photos" width="600" height="407" class="size-full wp-image-13263" \/><\/a> At the Energy Express Open House, Tessa Himelrick helped students make triangular dreamcatchers with popsicle sticks, string and beads. S. Stewart photos[\/caption]\r\n\r\nSuzanne Stewart\r\nStaff Writer\r\n\r\nEach summer, Marlinton Elementary School remains open as the base for Energy Express \u2013\u00a0an eight week reading and nutrition program.\r\n\r\nElementary age students spend time improving their writing and reading skills, as well as finding time for fun activities including skits and art projects.\r\n\r\nLed by coordinator Dustin Lambert, a group of community members and colleges students \u2013\u00a0Trisha Circosta, Tessa Himelrick, Alex Griffith, Casey Griffith and Cassidy Rao \u2013 Energy Express helps students maintain their knowledge in the summer months as well as giving them time to socialize with classmates.\r\n\r\n[caption id="attachment_13264" align="alignleft" width="400"]<a href="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2016\/08\/SS-Energy-Express-3.jpg"><img src="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2016\/08\/SS-Energy-Express-3.jpg" alt="Cassidy Rao tries to catch a fish as a group of kids anxiously wait. Rao led students in a game where they had to toss a ping pong ball into a cup of water. If they succeeded, they won a goldfish." width="400" height="581" class="size-full wp-image-13264" \/><\/a> Cassidy Rao tries to catch a fish as a group of kids anxiously wait. Rao led students in a game where they had to toss a ping pong ball into a cup of water. If they succeeded, they won a goldfish.[\/caption]\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s definitely not a summer school,\u201d Rao said. \u201cWe don\u2019t want to make it \u2018school.\u2019 We want to make it fun for the kids and so they can keep up their knowledge level. The \u2018summer slack\u2019 \u2013\u00a0they lose all their information over three months\u00a0\u2013\u00a0so working with these kids every day, they keep up their reading skills and their writing skills.\u201d\r\n\r\nRao, who plans to be a teacher after she graduates college, said she has seen improvement in her group\u2019s reading and writing skills.\r\n\r\n\u201cI\u2019ve sort of focused on the reading and writing because I know my kids struggle a little bit with it,\u201d she said. \u201cI\u2019ve seen some serious improvements from day one with one-on-one reading with the kids.\u201d\r\n\r\nRao isn\u2019t the only future teacher in the group. Both Himelrick and Casey Griffith plan to enter the education system.\r\n\r\n\u201cI\u2019m going to be an elementary teacher and special ed major, so I did this for experience, pretty much,\u201d Himelrick said. \u201cIt\u2019s been an experience-and-a-half. We do a lot of interesting art projects and stuff. It\u2019s been a blast.\u201d\r\n\r\nAlong with assisting young students, Energy Express has helped Himelrick broaden her horizons in the lessons she taught.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe do these graphic organizers and that helps them identify the story right off and keep the events straight when they are reading,\u201d she said. \u201cThey do writing. We do recreation; drama, which is new to me because I\u2019m not really great at drama. They help me out on that.\u201d\r\n\r\n[caption id="attachment_13262" align="alignleft" width="400"]<a href="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2016\/08\/SS-Energy-Express-1.jpg"><img src="http:\/\/pocahontastimes.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/25\/2016\/08\/SS-Energy-Express-1.jpg" alt="Casey Griffith used her art skills at a facepainting station. Here, she paints a colorful design on the face of Carter Faulknier as his mom, Harriet and brother, Tyler, watch." width="400" height="456" class="size-full wp-image-13262" \/><\/a> Casey Griffith used her art skills at a facepainting station. Here, she paints a colorful design on the face of Carter Faulknier as his mom, Harriet and brother, Tyler, watch.[\/caption]\r\n\r\nGriffith\u2019s students also focused on reading and writing in fun and unique ways.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe have five new words every day from the book we read,\u201d she said. \u201cThey each have their own journals that they write in, and I try to do that every other day. We do a lot of writing.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe students also showed their theatrical flare with their own twist on a Christmas classic.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe had a spirit week when we had Christmas in July and my class wanted to rewrite \u2018The Night Before Christmas\u2019 to make it \u2018The Night Before Energy Express,\u2019\u201d Griffith said. \u201cSo we did that play for everybody.\u201d\r\n\r\nLast 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.\r\n\r\nEnergy 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.