Students attending the SPLASH Summer Reading Program at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School stayed active with reading and special programs, including a visit from a member of the Bartow-Frank-Durbin fire department. Above, students pose with volunteer firefighter Brent Doolittle.

Brandon Nottingham
Staff Writer

School letting out for the summer is probably one of the most anticipated times for children all year long. They are finally out of the classroom and get to enjoy a nice, long summer break. That means no school, no teachers, no more getting up early to wait for the bus, or standing in the rain or snow, or miss the bus and end up being late for school.

It is truly a magical time for kids.

Even though they don’t want to be in school, what happens over the summer months when they aren’t engaged in some kind of learning activity?

It may not happen to every child, but sometimes learning just fades to the back of their minds, and they forget some things, or become rusty on what they recently learned.

That’s where the SPLASH Summer Reading Program comes in. It helps kids retain knowledge as well as learn some new things over the summer.

The SPLASH Summer Reading Program at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School has helped children keep their brains active these past couple of years.

Amanda Ryder, Site Coordinator of the SPLASH Summer Reading Program and teacher at GBEMS, has been working with other teachers and volunteers at the to help provide a summer learning experience.

“It’s something that is not only educational, but also fun,” Ryder said. “This program was designed to help students avoid that slide in their reading abilities over their summer break, and to sort of fill in the gap between school years. The program is for kids, kindergarten through fifth grade, and it runs for five weeks.”

Students meet at the GBEMS from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday. Breakfast and lunch are provided for them as well as for their families. Actutally, anyone in the community under the age of 18 is welcome to come for meals.

“First off, I want to send out a huge thank you to all of the people that helped with this program,” Ryder said. “Holly Cunningham, our Community Coordinator, and our mentors, Melissa and Michelle Murphy and Hallie Herold, and and all of the people who volunteered to come in and do presentations. Some of the things that we practice here at the SPLASH Program are reading, writing, drama, recreation, and STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Math. We make sure that we are covering a wide variety of subjects to keep the kids interested, as well as keep their minds sharp. We did a lot of reading assignments, and the students did most of them on their own. They would take home several books each week, and by the next week they were ready for more. Some other projects that we did were arts and crafts, putting on small skits and plays, and book reports.”

But it isn’t always work when it comes to SPLASH. Many events are held just for fun, and people from the community get involved by giving presentations during the five-week program.

“All of the presentations by the volunteers were open to the public and were a huge success,” Ryder continued. “The children and their family members all enjoyed them, and I hope that even more people will come next year.

“Brent Doolittle came down with a fire truck and let the kids sit inside while he talked about some of the duties of a volunteer fireman, along with some of the heroic duties that are required from time to time.

“Michelle Wilfong brought a lamb and did a read-a-loud about lambs and sheep, discussing how to care for and raise them.
“Jeff Barlow stopped by and gave a presentation about the Sheriff’s Department and some of the ways they keep our community safe.

“Ally Dunbrack did a presentation, read-a-loud and activity for RAZE.

“Cressie Shears performed a puppet show and led homemade outdoor games.

“Youth Health Services came twice a week to do different activities with the kids. Community Care gave a presentation on Health, and Helen Woolridge and the Women’s Club came by every day to read to the children. Toward the end of the program, we all got to go to a magic show at the Green Bank Observatory that was hosted by the Green Bank Library.”

The last day of the program was Fun in the Sun, when students and their families took part in games and water activities.

“Overall, I think it was a huge success,” Ryder concluded. “The students take a pre-test on their first day at SPLASH, and toward the end they take a post-test. I haven’t received access to the scores yet, but I am positive that they will come back better than before. Last year we had amazing results, and I have great faith in these students. I can’t wait for them to come back next year.”

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