Bay Area middle school students enjoyed a revamped Summer Institute this year that included a wealth of educational and recreational activities. “The entire program is new this year,” said middle school summer director Kelly Espinosa. In contrast to previous years, this year’s middle school summer institute operated independently at the middle school campus. “Because of the construction at Saratoga … we couldn’t have this many kids there,” Espinosa explained. “So we left the program at Saratoga for the high school kids and moved the sixth and seventh graders here.”
The program was designed to give students unprecedented flexibility in their choices of classes and activities. Morning offerings included beginning and advanced math, writing, science, robotics and art. Several classes were offered in both the morning and afternoon, enabling students to mix and match activities to their liking. For instance, a student could sign up for an afternoon pre-algebra session to make time for a morning debate boot camp.
The afternoon session also included various recreational activities, such as games, crafts and cooking so that students could learn new things and make new friends (as well as reconnect with old ones) in a positive environment.
A host of sports camps also were available to Summer Institute attendees, staffed by supportive coaches who guided students in a skill-focused environment. The camps, which included basketball, soccer, volleyball, wrestling and table tennis, were designed for players of all skill levels. “Our camps are targeted to kids who love the sport and want to learn more about it,” said Espinosa. This gives attendees the opportunity to establish a level of comfort with a sport and give them more confidence to play sports during the school year. “They actually understand it now where they never did before because they were too intimidated by it,” Espinosa noted. “And then things like pingpong are just fun.”