By Max Zeronian
Pasadena Unified School District is committed to helping students avoid summertime slipping.
The district offers a Summer Enrichment Program to stimulate more than 1,300 students academically. Known as SEP, the program gives students in grades pre-K-12 opportunities to gain experience for the coming school year.
SEP is run by the Pasadena Educational Foundation, a nonprofit organization that has been supporting PUSD for the past 14 years.
“We have what’s called the summer slide,” PEF Executive Director Patrick Conyers said. “Students fall behind in the summer when they don’t have any academic activity.”
PEF’s goal is to give students the opportunity to continue their education during the summer.
To provide tuition assistance to those in need, the foundation fundraises in the community. About 40% of SEP students receive some form of tuition assistance. For the past seven years, PEF has partnered with local businesses to provide students with the best experience possible.
Teaching these programs are a combination of industry experts and Pasadena teachers.
Businesses such as Alliance Française de Pasadena, the Pasadena Museum of California Art and the Sierra Madre Playhouse are actively involved in the five-week program that began June 12.
“We love working with the students in Pasadena’s public schools,” said Brian Eldering, executive director of Lineage Dance Co., another of the participating businesses. “And when the opportunity came to partner with PEF for the summer enrichment program, we jumped at the chance.”
“The partner programs add a glow to the experience,” Conyers said. “We’re glad the community sees the value in what we’re doing.”
The program is held on five PUSD campuses. Each site hosts different programs, but the introductory classes are held on each of the four elementary school campuses. These classes run the full three-block schedule, from 8 a.m.-noon, with one teacher.
The introductory classes are for kids entering either kindergarten or 1st grade. They are designed to prepare the students for what they will face academically, and are offered in English, or as Spanish or Mandarin immersion programs.
For those in grades 2-8, programs such as Coding 101, Action Sports and 3-D Printing give students the opportunity to spend more time on projects than they would normally devote.
“Every school in the district has a 3-D printer,” Conyers said. “But in the summer, we take some from other campuses so the students can all be working at the same time.”
For high school students, PEF offers several options. Students can either volunteer to help in the classrooms or they can take part in SAT and ACT prep courses, which are offered in conjunction with the College Access Plan.
High schoolers can also learn new skills in a graphic design class, which helps build their portfolios. The course uses computers and 3-D printers to familiarize the class with the leading edge in technologies.