Fairfield-Suisun summer programs end with students mastering new skills

FAIRFIELD – School was out in June, but for some students, their learning continued for a bit longer in summer programs.

Unlike years ago when it was a drudgery to be stuck inside for another two weeks, the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District has designed summer school programs that include a lot more to do than catch up on math.

Robert Matlock, 13, was virtual-learning for the last couple of years. His mom got an email from the school about the various programs, and she mentioned videography and visual arts programs to him, and he was really interested in what they offered a Sheldon Elementary School in Fairfield.

“I wanted out of the house. I am tired of staring at the screen all day,” Matlock said. “It strains my eyes.”

He figured he spent eight hours a day online for school.

“I thought at first doing school from home wouldn’t be that bad,” he said.

But it has proven not to be that good, either. He missed people and interacting with them.

That is why the summer videography and visual arts program was so good. He met new students from other schools and made new friends.

Eric Green, 13, records a video for the Super Summer Camp program at Sheldon Elementary School in Fairfield, Friday, July 8, 2022. (Susan Hiland/Daily Republic)

Eric Green, also 13, was nervous about taking the class.

“I thought it would be more fancy,” he said. “More green screens and lighting.”

The classroom was not large, but it did have a green screen with a table, mics and video cameras.

Green thinks he picked up a lot during the summer program.

“I want to do a YouTube channel and make some extra cash,” Green said. “But I don’t have this kind of equipment.”

He, along with six other students, got to learn the ins and outs of video production, from writing a script, to filming and editing it for the public.

Seventh-grade teacher Dale Alexander has been teaching media and hosting a school Media Club for the last seven years. He also has been teaching summer school for five years.

“I like it because it is fun and I can do what I want,” Alexander said.

His students learned to use cameras and set up lights for shots, including composition. They also got to practice writing scripts and reading from a prompter, which he says is something that takes practice.

“They also got to work with others and all from different schools,” he said. “They are pretty comfortable with each other now.”

For this program, students got to practice creating skits and doing weekly announcements to name a few skills learned.

“In my classes during the year, they don’t get that chance to do projects. They cover school activities, interview teachers and then write out the information,” he said.

Friday was the final day for the programs. Students and teachers will get a few weeks off before the school year begins.

The district provides a variety of summer camps and programs for students from kindergarten through high school. Teachers volunteered to work the extra four- to six-week programs, according to Corie Barloggi, assistant principal at E. Ruth Sheldon Elementary School.

Some of the programs the school looked at was inviting students who tested in the 40 percentile on the Spring MAP – or Measure of Academic Progress – testing.

“It was voluntary, we extended an invitation out to them,” said Barloggi.

Programs included an introduction to middle school and high school for incoming students, enrichment and music classes, and credit recovery courses. The district also hosted its annual Extended School Year program to provide specialized instruction for some students with Individualized Education Plans.

This has been exceptionally helpful for students coming back to school after being home for the pandemic, officials said.

“They start to remember social skills that were lost,” she said. “Parents have been very thankful.”

Students who were lagging behind in certain skills were able to catch up during the summer.

“We will see a difference in the school year,” she said. “They don’t slide backwards with the learning.”

Barloggi credits this program for being another way for students to be successful.

Leonardo Nunez, 13, had made some recordings before taking the summer school program, but felt he still had things to learn.

“Mom suggested it,” he said. “And it has been pretty fun.”

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