Thursday, June 11, 2015

'Summer Splash' classes all about fun

Originally published in print and online through ThisWeek News

Wednesday June 10, 2015 2:09 PM

Instead of lounging by the pool, more than 125 Westerville students chose to take summer enrichment classes earlier this month, where they learned about computer coding, ceramics or even fencing.
Teacher KatieWirthlin teaches Katie Davis
in the class "Get Dirty with Clay"

Summer Splash offered students entering second through eighth grade the chance to take morning or afternoon enrichment classes June 1-5 at Westerville North High School.

For more than five years, the goal of the Summer Splash programs has been to provide academic and creative challenges for highly motivated students and to help them become well-rounded individuals.

The planning began back in March when Vicki Jarrell, the coordinator of Gifted Education, reached out to teachers to ask what summer classes they would like to teach.

"It's a great opportunity for teachers to educate students on areas they don't have time to cover in the classroom," she said.

A minimum of six to eight students is needed for each class. Tuition is $85 a class for Westerville City School District residents.

"Our most popular classes are ceramics and fencing. Those always get maxed out very quickly," Jarrell said.

Another popular class has been the computer coding class. Even with Summer Splash courses offered in the morning and afternoon, Jarrell said that they were still reaching capacity and were having to turn students away.

"We knew kids and parents were interested in coding so we found a team of recent of graduates who were happy to teach an additional class and that's how Secondary Splash came about," said Jarrell.

Secondary Splash is targeted at students entering grades 6-12, who are interested specifically in computer science. It took place in the mornings this week, June 8-11.

Before the registration deadline, 50 students already had signed up for Secondary Splash.

"Kids are playing computer games online and they want to know how they work as well as how they can design their own game," Jarrell said.

Last year, the classes that were offered focused on science topics that included learning about plants or constructing a Rube Goldberg machine.

"This year, we are offering more enrichment classes," Jarrell said. "It is a great opportunity for students to take classes they otherwise wouldn't be able to take during the regular school year."

Sara Rath, a resource officer at Genoa Middle School for nine years, is teaching the Mock Trial class at Summer Splash and has for more than five years.

In her class, students learn about the law, court terminology and at the end of the week they put a fictional character on trial for a hands-on learning experience.

"I'm passionate about educating students about the law and I like to keep the class interesting," Rath said. "I wouldn't give up teaching Mock Trial for the world."

On June 3, the class traveled to Westerville Mayor's Court and watched a citizen contest a traffic citation.

Rath said she has had the same students take her class multiple times.

"I like making a connection with the students so if they come to Genoa, they can see a familiar face in the hallway," she said.

Three of her students have expressed an interest in becoming attorneys later on in life and Rath said she would be "really pleased if they joined Mock Trial in high school."