Summer reading camp to expand for Sumter third-graders

State grant awarded; 1st year program can be exemption to 3rd-grade retention

BY KAYLA ROBINS
kayla@theitem.com
Posted 5/1/18

Third-graders in Sumter School District will benefit on this year's break from school from a nearly $30,000 grant to expand a summer reading camp. According to Shelly Galloway, spokeswoman for the district, there are 1,342 students enrolled in the …

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Summer reading camp to expand for Sumter third-graders

State grant awarded; 1st year program can be exemption to 3rd-grade retention

Posted

Third-graders in Sumter School District will benefit on this year's break from school from a nearly $30,000 grant to expand a summer reading camp. According to Shelly Galloway, spokeswoman for the district, there are 1,342 students enrolled in the district's third grade.

Each summer, the district holds camps led by teachers and in partnership with local churches and groups to provide enrichment opportunities for young public school students who qualify, but this is the first year the camps may be used to prevent retention.

Emily Kimpton, English language arts coordinator for the district, said the reading camp is put on each summer but that the grant allowed the program to be expanded.

"It adds a different element to our camp. This year, we're going with the theme, 'Literacy out of the Box.' The theme approach is to the topic of the American Revolution. So, students will get assistance in reading, but also in a fun camp athmosphere," she said.

Monday through Friday between June 13-29 and again between July 16-24, third-graders who have been deemed eligible as needing extra help in getting to grade level will learn about the American Revolution through reading. The $29,856 grant from the state has allowed the district to bring in six United Way tutors to help out across the camp's three locations. An addition this year is also allowing for an extended day for students that involves staying until 5 p.m. instead of 2 p.m. for additional literacy, character development and physical fitness themes.

The YMCA of Sumter County will partner with students at the Willow Drive Elementary School location. Wilder Elementary School campers will benefit from a partnership with Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, and students at the Pocalla Springs Elementary School location will see a partnership with New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. Both church partnerships are under the leadership of Barney Gadson, director of Newton Family Life Center.

Kimpton said students are provided breakfast and lunch through the district's summer feeding program and an afternoon snack made possible by the grant.

The teacher-to-student ratio, she said, is 15 to 1, and books are provided by Sumter Education Foundation.

Sumter School District is one of 24 district and community organizations that will receive a total of $700,000 through the Summer Reading Camp Community Partnership Grant, State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced in a news release.

"A student's ability to read is a critical predictor of educational and lifelong success," she said. "Summer reading camps provide students with extended time and support to help them become stronger readers while combating summer reading loss in a fun, active environment."

The statewide funding comes from an appropriation from the South Carolina General Assembly and aims to "expand the existing summer reading camps, which provide elementary school students who are working toward grade-level reading proficiency with the opportunity to receive quality, intensive instructional services."

This school year has been the first year a student must be retained in third grade if he or she does not demonstrate reading proficiency on the SC Ready reading assessment. Completion of a summer reading camp is one of seven good cause exemptions from mandatory retention provided in the state's Read to Succeed legislation.

Kimpton said 250 students were invited to attend one of the three camps and that 201 have enrolled so far. Students who mark perfect attendance at Pocalla Springs or Wilder will receive free attendance to Gadson's camp in August, and perfect attendance marks for students at Willow Drive will receive a three-month family membership to the YMCA.

"Reading during the summer helps maintain their interest and also their skills in reading," Kimpton said. "There's research on the summer slide, and having those camps throughout the summer will help our third-graders ... propel even further."