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Students learn by having fun at Carthage summer program

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WEST CARTHAGE — For the past two weeks, 230 students learned to play the ukulele, made compost and practiced theater.

The elementary and middle school students presented a showcase tinged with art and science to parents and teachers Friday at Carthage High School’s auditorium, enlivening the event with pop songs via a ukulele and dance show.

“We’ve had (Carthage After School Enrichment) summer programs for four years,” said Marilyn Bish, the Carthage Central School District’s director of grants and projects. “We started with just 20 students, and this year we have 230.”

The programs, which also run during the school year, help build children’s character and responsibility, as well as develop natural talents, through individual classes and team-building activities.

“Students also practice their academic skills without them knowing it,” Mrs. Bish said.

Samantha G. Schroeder, 10, learned how to use clay to make jewelry and pottery. Multiple pieces were made by mixing different types of clay and glazes, then they were fired in a kiln.

“It’s fun to work with clay and see how things turned out,” she said.

Her favorite project was one that she made out of leftover clay: Turbo the snail.

Channing E. Runyon, 7, learned about both art and science in the Eco-Kids and Mixed Media Arts class.

“We do science about animals and bugs,” she said. “We actually found a frog.”

She said she enjoyed the class and plans to use the skills she learned this summer at home.

“We learned that making stuff like compost is good for the environment and never throwing away plastic stuff ever again,” she said.

It was not just a learning experience for students, however. Reader’s Theater and Photo Story class teacher Kathleen B. Branski said she plans to use plays to teach her first-graders how to read in the fall.

“This is a wonderful program,” she said. “I love that the arts are incorporated. They’re still learning the standards of school, but it’s all hands-on.”

During the two-week course, she used plays at different reading levels for students going into first through fourth grades. She said practicing reading plays and creating shows meant students were practicing high-frequency words, phrasing and expression.

“It allows all levels of readers to participate, and they’re working as a team,” she said.

The programs are funded by a Department of Defense Education Activity Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools grant and a YMCA Department of the Army grant.

To sign up for the fall programs, contact Jeanne Korman at 493-5123 for registration forms.

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