This article was originally published in the fall 2012 Harker Quarterly.
For middle and high school students, summer at Harker is an opportunity to both get a leg up academically and relax and have fun – the best of both worlds! By combining a morning academic program with afternoon activities, Harker’s Summer Institute (SI) gives students in grades 6-12 the chance to earn credits, learn new skills, follow their passions and have a whole lot of summer fun.
Open to all students in those grades, a total of 722 students enrolled in the program this summer, more than half of whom were non-Harker students. The institute’s learning program, held in the morning, offered rigorous for-credit courses such as algebra, economics and programming, as well as non-credit opportunities for enrichment and growth like creative writing, drawing and robotics.
In the afternoon, middle schoolers participated in a range of group activities, while high school students had drop-in access to the library, pool, art room, Ping-Pong table, basketball courts and study spaces. For all grades, an on-site prepared lunch was included as part of the overall program.
Middle school activities included sidewalk art and tiki masks, having water wars and boogie board relays in the pool, playing Hawaiian handball in the gym, and going on field trips to the beach.
On one particularly gorgeous sunny day, a group of SI participants was immersed in an exciting game of street hockey out on the front blacktop. Meanwhile, another group was equally engaged in a drum-making activity on the adjacent field.
Taking a break on a bench on the sidelines, participant Daniel Liu miller, 11, said he learned about the program from a friend who attends Harker. Now back for his second year at the institute, he said he especially looks forward to all the fun afternoon activities.
According to Chris Florio, director of the SI program, the wide range of choices and flexibility allows each student to design a schedule around his or her own academic needs and personal interests, giving everyone just the right mix of summer activity, learning and fun.
Sophia Angus, a second-year Harker student who will be entering grade 6 this fall, said it was her initial experience going to camp at the lower school that prompted the switch to becoming a year-round Harker student. She said the best thing about SI, and Harker, are “the incredibly supportive people,” including her coaches, teachers and friends.
Although it was her first time at a Harker summer program, Jenna Sadhu, grade 7, has been attending the school since kindergarten. “Yeah, I’m a Harker K-lifer,” she enthused, noting how much she has enjoyed meeting new summer friends. “It’s more laid back than during the regular school year … with more activities and freedom. I’m really glad Harker made the Summer Institute and highly recommend it!”