School on Saturday may not sound like the most popular activity for children, but it can be quite a blast if done the right way. About 65 students from District 13 recently spent their Saturday mornings in school, learning new languages or discovering more about the world around them.
For the second year, the district and SCOPE Educational Services worked together to offer a Saturday enrichment program. It was open to all students living or attending school in the district, and courses included science, creative edibles, Spanish and Italian.
Valerie D’Annunzio, a teacher in the district, led the science class. Students conducted a variety of experiments, including making ice cream, volcanoes and bubbles — not all at the same time — and studying fingerprints.
D’Annunzio would start each week’s class by introducing the topic and having students make a hypothesis. They would then head down to the cafeteria and conduct their experiments.
“We wanted to make it educational, but as fun as possible and things they normally don’t do in the classroom,” she said. “It is a little messy, but that’s OK. The mess is part of the fun.”
Her classes averaged 15 students per week. D’Annunzio added that it was a good opportunity for them to work together.
Frank Castrofilippo, a third-grader at the James A. Dever School, enjoyed the weekly experiments. “It’s fun because you get to try out new things,” he said.
Erica Wilson taught creative edibles, where children made fun food they could take home including dessert pizza, marshmallow snowmen and cracker towers. “None of this has to be cooked,” Wilson said. “They’re able to do everything on their own and it’s easy.”
Josephine Evola, a foreign language teacher in the Central High School District, led the Spanish and Italian classes. She taught basic vocabulary, numbers, colors and other common phrases.
Gerri Voss enrolled her son, Jack, a first-grader at the Wheeler Avenue School, in the Italian class. “My family is Italian and they speak Italian,” she said. “We figured, get him to learn some key words, and hopefully he would want to continue.”