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 Dâ€™Annunzio, a teacher in the district, led the science class. Students conducted a variety of experiments, including making ice cream, volcanoes and bubbles â€” not all at the same time â€” and studying fingerprints.
Dâ€™Annunzio would start each weekâ€™s class by introducing the topic and having students make a hypothesis. They would then head down to the cafeteria and conduct their experiments.
â€śWe wanted to make it educational, but as fun as possible and things they normally donâ€™t do in the classroom,â€ť she said. â€śIt is a little messy, but thatâ€™s OK. The mess is part of the fun.â€ť
Her classes averaged 15 students per week. Dâ€™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. â€śItâ€™s fun because you get to try out new things,â€ť he said.
Erica Wilson taught creative edibles, where children made fun food they could take home including dessert pizza, marshmallow snowmen and cracker towers. â€śNone of this has to be cooked,â€ť Wilson said. â€śTheyâ€™re able to do everything on their own and itâ€™s easy.â€ť
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. â€śMy family is Italian and they speak Italian,â€ť she said. â€śWe figured, get him to learn some key words, and hopefully he would want to continue.â€ť