Harker’s in-person summer programs returned this year after the 2020 sessions were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students in the middle and upper school Summer Institutes and the lower school Summer Camp Plus attended these sessions with precautions in place, engaging in a wide range of hands-on lessons and activities.
“Several Harker teachers offered specialty enrichment courses from philosophical thinking to cooking,” said Carol Green, principal of this year’s upper school Summer Institute. “These classes were a great opportunity for students to dive deep on topics we don’t normally offer during the school year while teachers got an opportunity to share passions they don’t get to teach during the academic year.”
One example was a cooking class in which students learned how to make everything from French cuisine to cheap dishes that could be made in college dorm rooms. Green sat in on Mark Janda’s class on American popular culture and its discussion of hip hop, observing that “the students and Mark had the opportunity to not only examine the evolution of this genre of music but also discuss its larger implications.”
Students were happy to return to learning in an in-person environment after spending multiple school semesters learning remotely. “I have had so many positive interactions with students about being in person for classes,” Green said.” They appreciate being off screens and engaging in the classroom, not to mention hanging out with new and old friends during breaks and lunch.”
“We are thrilled to be back in person again,” said Alison Ung, middle school Summer Institute co-principal. “The campus has been buzzing with student energy and laughter. They are so excited to be participating in everything from strawberry dissections in Forensic Science class and app development on Harker Android tablets in our App Inventor class to playing games at recess and simply sitting on the grass with friends.”
In classes such as the middle school’s Summer Science Research Society, students learned how to perform original research and engaged in activities such as making toothpaste and designing rockets. English teacher Mark Gelineau directed a class on pirates that covered their factual and fictional history, in which students learned semaphores and 18th and 19th century sword fighting. The middle school sports camp included returning favorites such as volleyball and TRX fitness, which uses a suspension training system to improve athletic performance and conditioning. Students were also seen enjoying themselves practicing martial arts, badminton and fencing.
Thorough safety precautions were practiced at each campus, with students and staff wearing masks and undergoing temperature checks as well as practicing social distancing.
Summer Camp Plus, offered to students in grades 1-5, featured morning academics in a variety of subjects, followed by a wide selection of outdoor activities and crafts as well as special events such as an assembly hosted by Happy Birds, which featured trained parrots performing a variety of tricks. There were also picnics held at lunchtime, and “students were able to have rotations of music and movement, science and art in their morning academic times taught by their specialist teacher,” said Summer Camp Plus co-principal Ali Bo, who also said students “loved” being back on campus for the summer. “Even though they had to wear masks, I could see the excitement on their faces to just be at school with their peers,” she said. “There was so much laughter, joy and learning going on throughout the entire six weeks, that when Summer Camp Plus was over, it felt like it just began.”