SAIL engages, educates local teens

VERGENNES — Vergennes teens looking to keep their brains active during the summer months without missing out on fun and games need look no further than the Summer Adventures in Learning (SAIL) program now taking place at Vergennes Union High School.
SAIL is a summer enrichment program that offers numerous classes designed to be both educational and exciting for students from 7th to 11th grade.
This is the first year that SAIL has taken an enrichment approach to summer learning, after two years as a straightforward summer school. According to program director Jill Strube, the focus of the program has expanded to include activities they hope kids will have fun with.
“Prior to this it had basically been math and reading skills, and things like that … it was more of a remediation program,” said Strube, who also runs the after school program, KEYS, during the school year. “This year … we do still have kids who need to work on skills, but we’ve tried to make it into really exciting, fun learning activities.”
The program is six weeks long and consists of three two-week sessions. In each session, students participate in up to four activities. Students may attend as many sessions as they wish, participating in up to 12 activities throughout the summer. Although the first session is now drawing to a close, it is not too late to sign up for the second and third sessions.
One program, Sailor to the Stars, has students learning about what it takes to be an astronaut — incorporating math, history, reading and science — and culminating in a rocket launch. The first session’s launch coincided with the launch of Atlantis, the final NASA spaceship to enter space. The kids ended their week of astronaut education by watching the launch last Friday on television, and then performing one of their own.
“(Our) launch was better because we got to do it ourselves,” said Devon Kimball, 12.
Ian Gramling, 12, enjoyed learning about the different aspects of being an astronaut, some of which he never imagined were parts of the job.
“I never knew astronauts had to be trained in public speaking,” said Gramling.
In addition to Sailor to the Stars, some of the other classes are:
• Building Bridges, in which students study engineering and then build their own bridges out of balsam wood;
• Rockin’ Roller Coasters, in which students learn basic physics by building model roller coasters out of Kinex;
• The Media and You, in which students are making graffiti-type banners for VUHS, exploring what they have learned about the media this year;
• Math Art, in which students do projects such as making compasses, string art and Selma puzzles; and
• Cooking with Math, in which students use food from the VUHS garden to cook different meals everyday, which are then served as lunch.
Other programs include Creative Writing and the Math and Science of Sports and Games.
The program also offers credit recovery, a more traditional summer school program for high school students who did not get credit for a course during the year. They offer credit recovery for English, science and math. Those students are required to attend for all six weeks.
The SAIL staff consists of ten teachers, mostly from VUHS, but including one from Mt. Abe Union High School, as well as Strube, her co-coordinator Beth Adrian, and administrative workers to help with paperwork.
The program runs daily from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and provides free breakfast and lunch as well as busing home in the afternoon.
To sign up for either the second or third sessions of SAIL, email Strube at [email protected].
Reporter Ian Trombulak is at [email protected].

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