LEWISTON — A new summer school camp will be offered to all incoming Lewiston Middle School seventh-graders.

The Great Maine Adventure! will teach about the state with hands-on classroom lessons and field trips to a lighthouse, beaches and mountains.

The goal is to prevent students from losing what they’ve learned this school year and give them a head start academically and socially. Research shows many students lose a full month’s worth of learning during the typical 10-plus weeks of summer vacation. Students who are not exposed to any critical thinking or enriching experiences can lose even more.

The program begins July 9 and ends Aug. 2. It will be from 8 a.m. to noon Tuesdays through Fridays at Geiger Elementary School, due to construction at the middle school.

It will be free to students and families, paid for by a $54,000 Title I grant. Busing, breakfast and lunches will be provided.

“I’m very excited about the program. It’s a great opportunity for students to transition into middle school and get their feet wet,” Superintendent Bill Webster said Thursday.

Amy Cronkhite, the parent of an incoming seventh-grader, is enrolling her daughter. Staying home during the summer is boring for many students, Cronkhite said, but summer camps are expensive.

“It gives my daughter Ashley the chance to not only stay involved with her academics, but allows her to meet new classmates.”

Lewiston Middle School Principal Shawn Chabot said the program will give students basic expectations and experiences to help them enter a new school with students from throughout Lewiston.

Lewiston Middle School students come from six different elementary schools.

“Each school’s a little different,” Chabot said. “Families come from different backgrounds, experiences and have different abilities to expose their kids to life experiences.”

One goal is helping disadvantaged students be ready for the seventh grade, “to level the playing field,” Chabot said. But the program is open to all.

“Lots of our students lose academic ground over the summer,” Chabot said. Camping, trips to parks and museums stimulate learning, but sitting around watching television or playing video games does not, he said.

“The program is our first attempt to start trying, as a whole district, to do some programming that helps mitigate the summer loss,” Chabot said.

Seventh-grade reading, math, history and science will be taught, but the delivery style will be hands-on and interactive; the content different than what students will get during the school year, according to Kristie Clark, director of special projects and English Language Learners for Lewiston schools. “We don’t want to give them the same things twice,” she said.

For example, one week students will read “Lost On A Mountain in Maine,” then hear from Donn Fendler, 82, the subject of the book. Another week, students will study Native Americans and hear from George Neptune, Bar Harbor’s Abbe Museum educator and Passamaquoddy master basket maker.

On yet another week, students will explore Maine geography and tour Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal and Wolfe’s Neck State Park in Freeport.

Attendance is strictly required, and students who miss more than one day will be asked to leave the program. Exceptions will be made, Clark said, for families that have vacations and other scheduling conflicts.

If 100 of Lewiston’s 350 seventh-graders sign up, that would be one of every 3.5 students participating. “It isn’t enough, but it’s a good start,” Chabot said. Recently the Lewiston Middle School received a D in Gov. Paul LePage’s state grading system. “One can always argue that the grade’s not fair, but it shows we need to think differently,” Chabot said.

For more information call Kristie Clark at 795-4100, or email: [email protected]

Summer school programs:

Between 800 to 1,000 students are expected to be enrolled in a program this summer, according to Kristie Clark, director of special projects and English Language Learners for the Lewiston School Department. That represents almost 20 percent of the city’s student population. All are free to students and families.

Longley Elementary — June 24 to Aug. 2, for grades two through six, Monday through Friday mornings, classroom learning with students coaching students from Monday through Thursday, field trip Friday tied to that week’s lesson. New this year is a program for kindergartners and first-graders that will emphasize language and vocabulary, also Monday through Friday mornings, June 24 through Aug. 2.

Montello Elementary — Three days a week from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., open to all students.

Lewiston Middle School — Program for incoming eighth-graders, two sessions, 7:45 to 11:45 a.m., and 11:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., to help students boost learning.

Lewiston High School — Standard summer school to allow students to recover credit, 7:45 a.m. to noon; two sessions, June 24 through July 10, and July 11 through 26.

For more information, call Kristie Clark at 795-4100, or email her at [email protected]

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