Summer reading program helps students grow, learn

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Students are leading with reading this summer as part of a summer literacy enrichment program. "Freedom School" is now underway everyday at Chicora Elementary School.

"It's really fun and it usually wakes us up in the morning," rising 7th grader Sarah Abdelrahim said.

For six weeks of summer, the students turn off the TVs and video games and take part in summer reading instead, with books appropriate for grades K - 8 depending on their age. The learning also includes activities to help the young people apply critical thinking skills of what they've read.

The overall program is meant to keep scholars from losing the literacy skills they gained during the school year. Each class is head up by a teacher or college-aged intern, some of whom have completed "Freedom School" themselves. There's also an incentive to get high school students involved.

For scholars who stick with the program through the 8th grade, they can then become junior servant leaders, working for a small stipend during the summer, as assistants in the program.

"It feels good because instead of working at a shoe store or McDonalds, I can make a difference in one of the scholar's lives," junior servant leader Dashi Drayton said.

Following the program, coordinators hope the young people will be leading with reading back home and in their communities.

"Not only are they learning, they are taking what they learn and taking it back to their family members. I hope that they would take not only learning, but growing within themselves and in their community," (site coordinator Courtney Cylear said.

One-hundred students are taking part in the program this summer, and they are all from Title One schools, which are schools with a high low-income population. "Freedom School" is sponsored by the non-profit Metanoia group and gets funding from donations and the national "Children's Defense Fund." The program has been going on for six years now in North Charleston.

©2011 WCSC. All rights reserved.