MEXICO — The halls and classrooms of Mountain Valley Middle School were abuzz with the voices of children who were having fun learning about science experiments and robotics, writing plays and creating art as the Western Foothills Kids Association summer program ended its third week on Thursday.

Coordinator Barbara Radmore said an average of 175 children from grades one through 12 attend sessions every day, Monday through Thursday. A total of 230 children are enrolled in the program.

Earlier on Thursday, Dirigo High School sophomore Shelby Shurtleff, who races at Oxford Plains Speedway, made a guest appearance with her vehicle.

Lots of surprises appear at the school, as well as an abundance of events.

Instructor Kim Dailey was busy showing a group of children about robotics, including how to program a robot.

“Some Boy Scouts earned their robotics badges here,” Dailey said.


Others were experimenting with 3-D printers or discovering and identifying plants and insects as they walked the school’s nature trail.

A group of fourth-graders was busy making superhero capes in one classroom, while another room was filled with students creating holiday trees affixed with the names of military members and others.

Mountain Valley High School French teacher Marie Russell was teaching students about blogging and photography, as well as helping younger students learn how to make a fizzy explosion from Mentos and Coca-Cola and flashlights using solar energy.

Children also participate in some form of physical education every day and receive breakfast and lunch.

Some of the herbs growing in the school’s garden were used in the daily lunches.

A group of sixth-graders used their artistic talents to create splash paintings which they then sold for $1 each. All money raised went toward medical expenses for an ill classmate.

A satellite summer program was also taking place at Rumford Public Library. That program culminated with a performance of “Treasure Island” on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

About 15 part-time instructors help out during the four-week program.

Funding comes from a federal 21st Century grant known as Full STEAM Ahead, STEAM being an acronym for science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics, as well as from Title I federal money.

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