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Multiple goals draw students to summer classes
by LOUISE R. SHAW
Jul 18, 2014 | 1385 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
STUDENTS IN SANDRA DECAIRE’S biology class visit the USDA Poisonous Plant Research Lab and get acquainted with goats who have been genetically modified to make spider silk in their milk (inset), as part of their summer courses. Photos courtesy Sandra DeCaire
STUDENTS IN SANDRA DECAIRE’S biology class visit the USDA Poisonous Plant Research Lab and get acquainted with goats who have been genetically modified to make spider silk in their milk (inset), as part of their summer courses. Photos courtesy Sandra DeCaire
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KAYSVILLE — Summer might be a chance to kick back for some, but for others it’s a chance to get ahead.

Five hundred students have taken advantage of Davis School District’s summer school this year, a program funded through the Utah State Legislature’s Utah Science Technology and Research initiative (USTAR).

There are lots of reasons to sign up for a summer school class, and students in Sandra DeCaire’s biology class shared a few of them.

By spending six intense weeks taking a class that earns them a full year of credit, schedules open up for more electives during the school year.

Several students are planning to take language courses or seminary with the elective space, others will have a chance to be in a band or a choir that might not otherwise have fit into their schedules.

For some students, it’s a chance to take general courses so they can qualify for more advanced classes during the school year as they prepare for a career in their chosen field.

For others, it’s a chance to make up lost credit or to review something they didn’t understand during the school year. Some look at it as a step on the road to early graduation.

There are advantages for teachers too, according to Allen Jacobson, who overees the program.

Teachers can get paid for doing what they love rather than finding summer employment in another field, and they can take their students places that they just couldn’t get to during a school year.

Earth sciences classes have visited the local planetarium and acquarium, plus Antelope Island, Red Butte Gardens and the Energy Solutions facility this summer.

During the school year, such educational outings would require that students miss other classes in any given day, said Jacobson. In the summer, the whole day is filled with studies of one subject and field trips don’t detract from other studies.

Sandra DeCaire teaches science and math at Fairfield Junior High during the school year.

As students graphed data they had gathered using a microscope, she said another advantage of  the program is that students come from many schools and ninth through 11th grades, so there is more diversity in her class of 30 students.

Davis High is hosting this year’s summer classes, a spot chosen not only for its central location but it’s air conditioning, according to Jacobson. Students meet from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. four days a week for six weeks weeks.

Others are simply refresher courses and run for two weeks.

Classes in science, biology, earth science and math have been offered.

At least one student from every junior high school and high school in the district is enrolled, plus several from charter schools. Their cost is $10 per course. Out-of-district students can attend when there’s space, for $50. One student came from Park City for the coursework.

Next year, a two-week refresher course is planned in August to “shake the cobwebs off” and help students prepare for the coming year, said Jacobson.

Robyn Ward, who teaches math at Woods Cross during the school year, said her students have worked hard.

“I’m most impressed with their dedication,” she said. “We very rarely have a kid absent. They choose to be here. It has to come from the kids.”

      In fact, the day the Clipper visited was an off day for math students, yet four were there getting extra tutoring from teachers.

“There is a lot of collaborative time” between teachers who normally work at different schools, Ward said, listing an additional benefit of the program. She said she will return to school with lots of new ideas.

“For me this is one piece in our overall math and science program that aims to meet the need of every one of our students,” said Jacobson. “If they need help or if they want to be advanced and go faster this will help. We can really reach students at their level and get them to a college prep level before they leave high school.”

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