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Summer school offerings are mix of new and existing programs

WESTFIELD – The Westfield Public Schools are offering an ambitious summer school program schedule, geared to help students of all ages reintegrate and get ready to start a new and hopefully normal school year in the fall of 2021.

Some of the programs are brand new and being offered for the first time, thanks to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund to address the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the brand new programs is the K-4 Summer Specials Academy at Munger Hill Elementary from July 12 to July 29, Mon. to Thurs., from 9:15 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Munger Hill Principal Salvatore Frieri said registration for the program filled up quickly, with 201 current kindergarteners to fourth graders signing up from all six elementary schools. Transportation is being provided, as is breakfast and lunch. “Kids need a head start for next year, and need to feel part of the schools again,” he said.

Frieri said 80 percent of the program will be specials — classes such as art, music, physical education and technology – and 20 percent will be academic, mostly reading and math. The teachers and the paraprofessionals will eat lunch every day with the kids for team building, and there will be a full-time counselor, nurse, secretary, and Frieri, who will be the site coordinator.

Frieri said the purpose of the program will be to give students a head start on the next school year. “It’s not about catching up or intense academics, but to give them a running start into the next school year to be excited about it.” Frieri said although the program is full for this year, the grant is for three years. “If they love it, maybe we can make it even bigger next year,” he said.

Also new is a Westfield Middle School Summer Transition Program, which will be held in two sessions Aug. 2 to 13, from 8 to 11 a.m. and 12 to 3 p.m.

Week one will be for fully remote students (rising seventh and eighth graders) coming back full in-person. Students will be assigned a three-hour time slot in the morning or afternoon, the week of Aug. 2-August 6.

Week two will be for all students transitioning from sixth to seventh grade. Students will be assigned a three-hour time slot in the morning or afternoon the week of Aug. 9-13.

“We will be inviting students to attend through letters this week. Our two week transition program is brand-new for our students to help ease their movement from fully remote to in-person and from sixth to seventh grade after such a unique year. We will be able to offer some academics, relationship building, connections to adults, and connections to the building.” said Westfield Middle School Principal Jessica Kennedy.

A Middle School Math Accelerated Summer Program for any rising eighth graders who failed seventh grade math will be held Aug. 16-20. Rising seventh, eighth or ninth graders who failed two or more classes will also participate in the Westfield High School Credit Recovery Program.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer so many different programs to our middle schoolers,” said Kennedy.

High School Band Director Patrick Kennedy will also be offering a free Band Summer School for the first time at the Boys & Girls Club for grades 4 to 9 in two sessions, Aug. 2-6, and Aug. 9-13.

“I’ve wanted to do it for years,” Patrick Kennedy said. He said he has been developing a relationship with the Boys & Girls Club, where some of his students have been teaching music during the school year.

“I think we started doing piano, guitar and drum lessons down there. The next step is to have a summer band, and all the band teacher said, let’s do it. Bill Parks has opened his arms to us,” he said. Teaching along with Patrick, will be Ryan Emken from WMS, Will Choe from Westfield Intermediate School, Elementary band teacher Jessica Pietrosanti and general music specialist Emily Baker.

Students can sign up for one five-day session or two sessions. Lunch will be provided by the Boys & Girls Club. Patrick Kennedy said he sent out a form to everybody in grades 4 to 9, and already got back 75 responses. Registration is still open.

“We’re going to have different full band rehearsals under a tent outside, a beginning, intermediate and advanced group, with pull-out sessions of small group lessons, drum line, modern band, jazz, world music and African drumming, whatever the students are interested in,” Patrick Kennedy said, adding, “We’re also going to be able to do some musical activities with the campers at BGClub indoors. it’s really a collaborative effort.”

There will also be student mentors from Westfield High School helping with the program. Patrick Kennedy said he put the word out to his students in grades 10 to 12 to sign up.

He said they hope to have some small impromptu concerts on the two Fridays, and said anyone can bring a lawn chair and come on down.

Westfield High School will again offer Credit Recovery for grades 7-12 in two sessions, July 6 to 16 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., and July 19 to 30 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The program is free, and funded by Title I. Food Services will offer a grab and go lunch for students on their way out.

WHS summer school director Andrew Joseph said the program is for students who have failed required classes. “Wednesday is the last day of school, counselors will be in the next day after the grades have come out to send out flyers,” Joseph said. The flyers will contain the link to register for summer school, and is posted on the district website at Students can also go to Family ID and register.

Joseph said the program is for “every kid who needs it.” He said Westfield Technical Academy and Westfield High School students will get something in the mail from their school counselors early to next week, as will Middle Schoolers.

“We’re going to try to accommodate everybody. It will just depend on how many teachers we get, and how many kids sign up. We’re expecting 100 kids per session,” Joseph said.

High school students will be able to take English language arts, U.S. History I and II, Modern World History, Algebra I and II, Geometry, Biology, Phys Ed, Intro to Engineering, Intro to Physics in unit-based academics classes.

For students in grades 7 to 8, the classes will be more project-based learning. Joseph said teachers will set up projects that involve ELA and math standards, put into project-oriented classes.

A spring credit recovery program was also offered this year over vacation week for the first time. “The failure rates are up a little bit. The program in the spring helped a lot. 50 students took advantage of the program. Hopefully, that will lighten the load for the summer,” Joseph said.

Programs for Special Education students on Individual Education Plans (IEPs) that require summer school are also being held on July 6 to 29 at Fort Meadow from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Westfield Intermediate School from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and at the Transitions Services program in Central Baptist Church from 8 to 11 a.m.

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