New Hanover County Schools rolled out a new summer learning program Monday called the Think Lab. It focuses on teaching rising kindergartners and rising sixth graders how to think critically.
During the summer, students lose about two months of knowledge and skills that they have learned in school. More than half of the achievement gap between lower-income students and higher-income students is due to a lack of summer learning opportunities, according to the National Summer Learning Association.
The county is putting an extra focus on Title I schools, which serve a student population below or near the poverty line.
The Think Lab is a free five week program offered to rising kindergarten students registered to attend any of New Hanover County's Title I elementary schools and rising sixth grade students who will attend D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy or Williston Middle School.
D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy Principal Eric Irizarry said the program gives students an extra academic boost.
"We want all students to learn to be 21st century learners. So just getting them to be at Virgo for five weeks during the summer and getting those skills and working with some of our veteran teachers is a real advantage for our students," Irizarry said.
School officials said the program offers students 20 additional days of learning outside the traditional school year. Students participate in activities that build their vocabulary, critical thinking and leadership skills.
D.C. Virgo Instructional Coach Sabrina Hill-Black said the Think Lab is a great chance to get students ready for the new school year.
"A summer camp where there is learning happening, they're mentally engaged, actively engaged. They are getting a fresh start," Hill-Black said.
Rosa Mack is a parent of a student in the Think Lab and she said she is thrilled that her son is getting the opportunity to understand that life is a learning experience.
"It's a joy to know that he's not on the street and he's still learning. He's an A, B Student and I want him to stay on top so being here is helping him keep the skills that he needs to have," Mack explained. "It's really keeping him abreast to let him know that life is always a learning experience."
School officials said 670 students are participating across the county to get a jump start to their school year.
The program is all day, four days a week for five weeks, starting July 14, ending on August 14, 2014.
Interested parents can get more information and register their student at the Title I school they will be attending in the fall. Principals have the registration forms and parent transportation request forms. Transportation, breakfast and lunch will be provided as part of this program.
For more information about the Think Lab, please contact the Federal Programs Department at (910) 254-4152(910) 254-4152.
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