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This year marked the third year of our It’s a WRAP! (Writing, Reading, Art and Performance) summer program at School on Wheels’ partner location, Salvation Army Barton Center. Each year we pick a theme for It’s a WRAP!, and this summer we concentrated on mysteries. Our Barton Center Program Coordinator Ieva, and Ronnie, a Teach for America summer intern, worked with volunteer tutors during the month of July to engage over 20 students ages 5-16 with this theme.

Each night, the students in the It’s a WRAP! program rotated between three different stations: reading and writing with Ms. Ronnie, performance with Asante Children’s Theater and coding with Nextech. These three components worked in tandem to provide a multi-faceted summer experience for students, which helped prevent summer learning loss, gave our kids a safe and productive place to be two nights a week and helped build their confidence.

With this year’s focus on mysteries, the students read some awesome books with the guidance of Ms. Ronnie, including Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry G. Allard, Jr. and Witches Don’t Do Backflips by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Jones. The students in our youngest age group (5-7 years old) read two mysteries together as a group and completed an activity each night that related to the reading. The older groups (8-11 years old and 12+ years old) read only one book each, but they also wrote their own mysteries! The students were able to use their creativity to develop a time period, detective, clues and more for their stories.

In addition to reading and writing, the students also worked on performance and building their self confidence with Ennis Adams (affectionately called Mr. E by all of the kids) of Asante Children’s Theater. Our students also spent some time each evening with Hayden Mills, a summer intern at Nextech, who helped unravel the mysteries of coding and get students excited about technology.

On the last night of the program, students, parents, tutors and School on Wheels staff joined together at our end-of-summer celebration. During the evening, students showcased all that they had learned and worked on this summer – they performed a play with Mr. E, demonstrated their knowledge of coding with Hayden and read aloud the mysteries they had written.

Not only was the end of summer performance a huge success, but the results from the program were as well. 100% of the students surveyed enjoyed the program and would participate in a similar program next summer.

We think these quotes from our students and staff say it all!

“It’s fun because in drama I get to express myself freely and get all of my energy out.” –  Kevin*, 10th grader

“This summer was AWESOME! It was great working with so many kids excited about learning new things and who wanted to be the in the presence of knowledge.” – Ronnie, It’s a WRAP! co-leader

“It’s a great program to stay on track for school and still have some fun as well!” – Sarah*, 9th grader

“It’s a WRAP! was great this summer!  All the kids were very excited about participating this year and all were engaged in each aspect of the program. I’m glad I got the opportunity to experience it.”  – Ieva, It’s a WRAP! co-leader

Everyone was tremendously proud of the summer accomplishments of our amazing kids!

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all names of School on Wheels students are changed to protect privacy