Between June and mid-August this year, D-E 360° Summer Connections (SC), an American Camp Association-accredited program, hosted more than 700 students from preschool through grade 12. Students from near (New Jersey and New York) and far (including China and Korea) came to the D-E campus for a “fun-tastic” summer experience.
Our youngest “Discoveries & Adventures” campers had a ball with a Summer Olympics-themed program. Children enjoyed a demonstration by members of the US Olympic Fencing Team just days prior to the team’s departure for Rio. They also made their own Olympic medals, laurel leaf wreaths, and Olympic Park replicas, took part in Water Play Wednesdays and Theme Thursdays, and had fun with Olympics-inspired lessons in art, yoga, cooking, Spanish, and drama.
Meanwhile, the SC Enrichment, Scholars, and “Deep Dive: Immersive” programs for students in grades 5 to 12 offered dozens of sessions in the visual and performing arts, athletics, business and finance, STEM, and more, as well as core, credit-bearing courses in disciplines such as English, mathematics, and science. Perennially popular courses—like “Jr. Chef: The Breakfast Club,” “The Beat Goes On,” “Debate,” and “Creative Games”—were supplemented by fresh new courses, some of which took place in the new Hajjar STEM Center, including “Balloon Rocket Car Races” and the “Deep Dive: Immersive” STEM Challenge course led by D-E Director of Technology Trevor Shaw (see Last Look on page 33 for more details and photos).
D-E 360° Program Director Dr. Sherronda Brown noted, “This year, we welcomed our new programs director, Michele Wright, whose first summer was outstanding. Summer Connections has for more than ten years been one of the area’s largest day camp options, and this year was no exception. [W]e enjoyed every moment together as our learners engaged in offerings that challenged their minds, nurtured their growth, and encouraged exploration.”
The mission of the D-E 360° SC program is to engage learners in the job of discovery through a variety of experiences, including enrichment in academics and explorations in the arts; adventures in sports and healthy living; leadership development and connections to the global world; innovative approaches to teaching and learning; and integrated technology in classroom instruction. Students who enter our campus every summer encounter an enriching environment that stimulates intellectual growth, fuels creativity, ignites imagination, and fosters a path to discovery.
One popular “Deep Dive” session included Entrepreneurs Academy, as more than a dozen students presented on ideas that ranged from the business minded to the social entrepreneur. Students worked in teams to explore the “How To’s” of starting their own business from understanding the basic fundamentals of business to following and creating a business plan. Students also presented with a few business case studies to imagine a start up-company from their business plan. The week-long experience culminated with student portfolio presentations, the quality of which matched that of successful adult entrepreneurs.
“Entrepreneurs Academy was led by Juan Zucchero, a gifted educator from NYC whose teaching experience ranges from working with elementary school aged children to teaching college courses as an adjunct professor for SUNY,” noted Brown. Currently, Mr. Zucchero serves as senior instructor of economics at NEST+m where his business plan proposal project has become the staple requirement for graduating seniors. “His passion for economics, business planning and finance is infectious and awe-inspiring! We’re looking forward to the growth of the Entrepreneurs Academy at D-E,” says Brown.
Brown continued, In its second year, the Young Visionaries (YV) program, under the direction of D-E Visual Arts faculty member Rachel Brusky was another hit. In addition to learning from profoundly talented teaching artists, the YV students ventured into NYC to the Cloister Museum for exposure and inspiration. Their culminating work at the end of the two week program was showcased in two galleries in Swartley Hall included paintings, wood workings, and sculptures that reflected a great deal of learning and skill development. Brusky noted how she and her fellow teachers were impressed by the number of strong art pieces the students produced individually and collaboratively. The projects the students did were designed to build problem solving skills, creative thinking, artistic vision, and help them to become more resourceful and independent.
The program wrapped up its seventh and final week with a dramatic grand finale concert by the SC String Society participants. String Society is an intensive, by-audition-only program for student musicians, which this summer was co-directed by D-E Middle School Orchestra Director Diego Garcia (cello) and StringJam Director Annaliesa Place (violin)—fresh from their “Summer Arts with Juilliard” festival appearance in Switzerland—together with visiting instructor Ayano Ninomiya (violin) of the New England Conservatory.
String Society participant Isabella Pizzillo ’19 remarked, “This program is really outstanding! It brought my playing to a higher level. The instructors and musicians alike shared the enthusiasm and passion for the music. I was truly inspired by the experience and highly recommend it.”