With only one more day to go, students in the Extended Year Program at San Altos Elementary danced, sang, played games and held their own special Olympic games.
Bobbie Burkett, director of student services for the Lemon Grove School District, said the four-week program helps maintain the life skills that students with special needs are likely to lose during a long summer break.
Over the past four weeks, 18 staff members worked with 55 students with all varying levels of physical and/or learning disabilities and conscience levels.
She said that with a great student-to-teacher ratio, students get the tools they need to succeed, keep up to date and prepare for the upcoming school year—which starts in just about six weeks.
Lessons for the preschool through middle school students are a blend of computer learning programs called Unique and Splash, which offer participants a hands-on, visually stimulating experience. Everything a student does focuses on science, water, sensory skills and current events.
"The great thing about Splash is that it brings the lessons down to their level, teaching them to work well together as well as the functional life and social skills," Burkett said.
Using the Olympics as the topic for their current events activity, preschoolers made American and Olympic flags, torches and hats.
Students in grades one through three focused on science, water, the Olympics and nutrition. Grades four through six are more academic, Burkett said, and work on a variety of activities that incorporate science and English language arts.
Teaching fourth through sixth graders, Cathy Glenn held her own Olympic games, getting her class outside participating in bowling, target practice, cycling and tennis. She said all of her activities during the summer dealt with preparing her students for every aspect of going to middle school.
Glenn said events were created with the student's needs in mind.
"For cycling, we are using small, rolling push carts,” she said. “And even though the kids wanted archery, we are using ring toss."
Glenn said focusing on the student's transition into middle school covered a broad range of activities and one-on-one attention to social skills.
"We have one young man getting ready to head into middle school and his favorite role characters are very young for his actual age," she said. "But through a lot of talk, he has moved up from Buzz Lightyear to Ironman. Though it might change from day to day, he will have an easier social transition."
Burkett said everything is a little different at San Altos, but that the program has great value to student who might have a hard time understanding rules and learning expectations.
"Some students require an environment more structured and are provided objectives that help keep a student engaged," Burkett said.