By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
For most kids, summer is a time to play in the pool, run around outside and basically just forget all about school. But, a summer totally void of any reading makes for what is known as the “summer slump” when they start back to school in the fall.
Twenty students in grades 1-4 at Smokey Mountain Elementary have been working to slow their summer slump in a two-week Summer Reading Program. The program, which focuses on reading comprehension and truly understanding the text, was funded by an $8,000 grant from the Harrah’s Cherokee Tribal Scholarship Fund.
“They’re really working with the text,” said Alicia Kilpatrick, Smoky Mountain Elementary reading specialist. “They’re asking questions about the literature. They’re connecting with the literature.”
She said the grant was very helpful. “That helped us to fund the program and get materials for our students. We’ve not been able to do our program for several years because we didn’t have the funding.”
Kilpatrick related that Smokey Mountain currently has an enrollment that is around 50 percent EBCI tribal members and she said exactly one-half of the students in the Summer Reading Program are tribal members.
“This program really helps with the summer slump, and students are able to learn and be active with literacy in our program, and they have hands-on experience,” she said. “A lot of times they don’t even realize that they are learning and doing their reading because they are having so much fun. So, it gets them over the summer slump and it prepares them for the next school year also.”
The overall theme of this year’s program is “Children and Cultures in Many Lands”, and the students have been learning about different cultures including Chinese, Austrialian, Mexican and others.
This past week, the students were learning about “Celebrations Around the World” and worked on making Mexican shakers, Chinese drums and Australian dot paintings.
“I like the program,” said Carter Blanton, a rising 2nd grader. “The favorite thing I learned is probably making the little drums, the Chinese drums.”