Research has shown that students often experience a decline in academic skills over the summer holiday. This phenomenon is often referred to as a ‘summer slide.’ While there is no disagreement about the existence of the ‘summer slide’ there are many opinions on how schools should prevent it.
On one extreme of the debate are decision makers that campaign for a twelve month school year and the elimination of summer break altogether. Folks on the opposite end of the spectrum believe that students should be entirely removed from academics for the entire summer as students need the holiday to recharge. In between these two extremes are a third camp of individuals that believe the best defense for the summer slide is to encourage students to engage in enrichment programs and hands-on projects during the summer months. These sort of programs present opportunities for students to build academic skills within a ‘real world’ context by adopting an experiential approach to education.
This past summer Ss. John Neumann & Maria Goretti students Gianna Trout, Imira Roussaw, Sofia Carlo,and Kelly Ho had the opportunity to participate in Drexel University’s Altomari Entrepreneurship Camp. The Altomari program is for female high school students who want to learn more about entrepreneurship and the challenges of starting your own business. Throughout the program students hear from experienced female entrepreneurs, develop a professional network, and work in venture creation sessions that culminate in a final pitch presentation at the end of the program.
“I’ve always had an interest in business, but I didn’t know what it meant to be an entrepreneur until I participated in the camp,” said Kelly Ho, a rising sophomore. “The speakers really made the experience, and all of the girls in the camp were so inspiring. I enjoyed learning from actual entrepreneurs.”
Giana Trout, another rising sophomore at Neumann-Goretti, is very glad to have participated in the Altomari Entrepreneurship program, “The camp gave me the opportunity to gain real world experience, meet new people, and learn that even though you may be nervous, you sometimes need to leave your comfort zone.”
In addition to participating in enrichment opportunities like the Drexel Altomari Entrepreneurship Camp, Neumann-Goretti students also avoid the summer slide by living out Jesus’ call to serve through hands-on projects.
As a requirement for graduation, all students at Ss. John Neumann and Maria Goretti High School are obliged to complete ten hours of community service each school year and four hours of service during the summer months. Students involved in student council, National Honors Society, and athletics devote additional hours of service as part of their participation in those activities.
Rising freshmen Ava Massi, Mia Talamo, Page Oakes, and Joana Fareri, donated part of their summer vacation to support the work of Cradles to Crayons. As articulated in the organization’s mission statement, Cradles to Crayons provides children from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive – at home, at school and at play. Cradles to Crayons supplies these items free of charge by engaging and connecting communities.
Page, Ava, Joana, and Mia first donated school supplies, items for babies, and children’s books to Cradles to Crayons. After this initial involvement with Cradles to Crayons the girls began volunteering their time to the organization to assist with packaging and sorting donations. Participating in service during the summer months allows students to beat the summer slide by providing them with opportunities to build social-academic skills in relationship building, communication, and critical thinking.