School in session for some during district’s spring break

'Intercessions' give students chance to boost grades

D.W. Brown, left, and Christopher Gonzales are instructed by Maranee Parry of Hilltop Community Resources how to prepare collard greens at the District 51 spring break intercessions camp at Bookcliff Middle School.

Amara Rath, 13, wanted to get her grades up and didn’t mind taking a week out of spring break to do so.

While other District 51 students are spending the first of two weeks of spring break at home or on vacation, Rath is one of about 113 District 51 middle-school students who are attending spring break intercessions this week at Bookcliff Middle School. Another 120 middle-schoolers are attending intercession classes at Redlands Middle School.

The concept of an intercession week was introduced this school year as a chance to give kids extra time to catch up in certain subjects. Students with the lowest Transitional Colorado Assessment Program test scores in those subjects were invited to attend.

Thanks to funding from the District 51 Foundation, middle school intercessions are being offered by 20 teachers and a handful of volunteers with a day camp-type feel featuring three math classes a day and two electives per student. Elective options include hunter education, financial education, a cooking class and a girl’s leadership seminar, among other offerings.

The foundation is only funding middle school intercessions this year but District 51 elementary and high schools participated in intercession week as well.

Six elementary schools are hosting remediation classes for math and literacy and high schools are open for students to catch up on credits, work on math and literacy, prepare for ACT testing or take TCAP make-up tests if they missed a test before spring break.

Certain alternative school students were invited to work on a math-related project this week at Western Colorado Community College.

It may sound like extra work to some, but Rath said the variety of electives and a chance to catch up in math made her want to participate in intercessions.

“I love school, so I’m super happy to be at school,” Rath said, although she admitted she wouldn’t mind having all of spring break to practice piano for an upcoming talent show.

To keep students interested, teachers are giving out red tickets for good behavior, then having a daily drawing for prizes like movie tickets and roller rink admission.

“It has really helped the kids to be motivated to come back every day because a lot of them felt like their spring break was taken from them,” Bookcliff teacher Jared Burek said.

Four hundred students were invited to middle school intercessions. Attendance wasn’t as strong as hoped, according to District 51 Foundation Coordinator Jennifer Hensel Hildebrandt, but she said a small teacher-to-student ratio and using activities instead of lectures to teach math concepts helped kids grasp things they didn’t before.

“It’s not the numbers we were hoping for but these kids are getting something out of it,” she said.


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