This was the second summer that the district’s Boston-based students participated in SummerFun!, the Arlington Community Education (ACE) program that offers educational and fun opportunities for APS students. The partnership between ACE and the district METCO staff was key to making this experience possible. ACE sponsored the bus transportation and the
onsite Coordinator, Ms. Dionne Jones, and the district METCO program sponsored tuition. Ms. Jones is a Teaching Assistant at the Ottoson Middle School as well as this year’s METCO bus Monitor.
The young people who participated were from Bishop, Hardy, Peirce, and Ottoson, and they ranged from rising first to rising ninth graders. They took part in SummerFun! for three weeks in July–21 students during the first week, 18 during the second, and 16 during the third.
The students had a variety of interests, and chose courses that ranged from art, to sports, science, acting, dance, cooking, finance, Parkour, and more. Together they attended
almost 40 different types of sessions. Attendees raved about Accessories, Fashion & Fun, Friendship Bracelets, Glass Art, and Clay Creations. Other popular activities included participating in plays and performance, LARP, exploring the woods, and dancing. Making new friends was also cited as an important part of the SummerFun! experience.
Ms. Jones took attendance, kept detailed notes about each day, and provided words of encouragement on the whiteboard every day. A rising 10th grade METCO student worked as a Counselor and as the bus monitor that transported the students to and from the program. This was the first time an Arlington METCO student has worked in the program. Ms. Malika Whitley, current METCO Instructional Specialist, hosted Accessories, Fashion & Fun throughout the three weeks.
Feedback from parents was positive, and it is hoped that more weeks can be added next summer. Connecting with friends, making new ones, learning new skills, and exploring individual interests are all elements of the SummerFun! program. Taking part is a great way to increase community connection and family relationships between the APS Boston-based students and their Arlington classmates.