Camps & Schools 2023

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CAMPS & SCHOOLS JANUARY12-18,2023| PAGE 19 FALLS CHURCH NEWS-PRESS | FCNP.COM 2023 CAMPS & SCHOOLS PAGES 19-23 Rising 1st-6th Grade June 20 - August 18, 2023 Falls Church, VA 8:30 am to 4:30 pm $340/week www.columbiabaptist.org/camp-columbia

CAMPS & SCHOOLS

Summer Smarts: How Camps Influence Fun and the Future

When a parent sends their child to a summer camp, they may think it’s a way for the child to enjoy a week or two of sun, fun and friends. However, these camps can also benefit their pupils in an academic and professional way.

In recent years, summer camps have grown from woods-centered, bonfiresinging sleepaway vacations to focusing more on specific interests; some that may lead into a young adult’s future career or academic goals. These camps can be centered on cooking, STEM, theater/dance, sports and much more.

Although a child may be initially hesitant about taking part in a summer camp, what they and their guardians might not know is that these camps can foster growth. These summer camps can take a child out of their comfort zone and blossom an interest they might have not had before.

Tom Rosenberg is the president and CEO of the American Camp Association, a national nonprofit organization that accredits all organized camps across the United States. Rosenberg stated the Covid-19 pandemic has “really highlighted and underscored” why summer camp/programs are important for the enrichment of children.

Learning at a summer camp or program is different from year-long learning at a school, according to Rosenburg, due to its “kinetic” and “experiential” hands-on learning. These camps can influence a child to take “positive risks,” such as joining a camp/program that introduces them to a possible new interest.

“There’s all kinds of things that you do at camp that are new, different and hard,” Rosenberg said. “At camp, you learn to try hard things and not worry about making mistakes because it’s a place that’s set up to be emotionally and physically safe.”

If a child does have an interest in science, the arts or athletics, camps can allow them to explore further what they can do with their interests in the future. These camps can also help a young one to acquire lifelong skills, such as communicating with others and developing independence.

In the City of Falls Church, camps are offered for both residents and nonresidents. According to the city’s website, the Falls Church Recreation and Parks Department is “committed to offering safe, high-quality and enjoyable in-person camp programming.”

In past years, the city has provided summer camps focusing on cooking, dance and gymnastics, art, music and theater, media, STEM and more.

SUMMER CAMPS can allow a child/young adult to explore interests they may or may not have that can affect future career goals. (P����:

These camps allow a child to enjoy a camp experience based on their specific interests or explore something that can become a future school or career appeal.

Kristofer Titus is the association director of school age child care and camp at the YMCA Alexandria. He said it’s important for children of all ages to “explore, learn and grow in their confidence and skills.”

The summer programs offered at the YMCA Alexandria include health/ nutrition camps and sports/ wellness camps. Speciality programs are also offered throughout the summer, including a crime investigation and an engineering camp. Titus said the YMCA sees about 1,000 children take part in these programs each year, with many former participants coming back when they get older to help out as staff through the company’s leadership program.

Titus further stated that if children aren’t given the opportunity to experience summer camps or programs, they are “less likely” to explore the different interests offered when entering middle school or high school.

“We want to give [children] an allaround experience so that they have the opportunity to see what they like and then dig deeper into that,” Titus said.

Rosenberg went on to state that summer camps/programs are often the first place a child does something all by themselves, such as cooking, painting/ drawing or playing a certain sport. Describing it as a “huge, project-based learning community,” Rosenberg said camp allows a child to work with their peers and create/succeed at something together, a skill “relevant” from a workforce development perspective today.

“This is a generation of kids who are going to grow up and be inventors, design thinkers and learn how to engineer technology,” Rosenberg said, “so that it can create better things for society and the greater community.”

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CAMPS & SCHOOLS

FCCPS Students GIVE Back on Upcoming Annual Day of Service

Seven years ago, a group of fifth grade students and their families created a community service project that people of all ages can participate in.

GIVE Day — “Get Involved, Value Everyone” — has since evolved into a “significant” community service project for all Falls Church City Public Schools. The event allows students in preschool through twelfth grade to “take action” by hosting various community projects throughout the school year, culminating on a Day of Service on Monday, January 16th.

During the 2022-23 school year, the GIVE day ambassadors supported five different areas: food insecurity, animal welfare, refugee assistance, sports gear to Africa and sustainable art. Various events from December through January have helped support these areas, including a bake sale, pet food drive and dine-out fundraiser.

The very first GIVE Day took place in 2016, with 12 fifth-grade ambassadors leading a group of 300 volunteers. Christine Lee Buchholz, the co-founder of GIVE Day said the idea to have the event was inspired

by the International Baccalaureate learner profile trait of “caring” and Harvard’s Making Caring Common project. The Falls Church PTA wanted to “provide a tangible way for children of all ages to participate in community service.

“Every year the students adapt GIVE Day with their creativity, passions and interests,” Buchholz said.

Suzanne Hladky and her three children have been involved with GIVE Day since its start seven years ago, with her oldest son Henry being one of the 12 kids that were the first ambassadors. Hladcky has been one of the parent coordinators for GIVE Day throughout her children’s elementary, middle and high school years.

“It’s really blossomed,” Hladky said when talking about GIVE Day. “We’ve looked at local and international charities, and are doing our best to support what the kids want to support.”

To be an ambassador, Hladky said the process varies between grades.

For fifth grade students in elementary school, they must fill out an application that explains why they want to be an ambassador and what matters to them when it comes to service.

For middle schoolers, there is a GIVE Day club students can sign up for and fill out a form as to why they want to be a part of the service event/ ambassador. High school ambassadors do more outreach activities on an executive board, including setting up panels for nonprofit leaders to speak to younger ambassadors as well as going to the elementary schools themselves to speak about GIVE Day.

This year’s GIVE Day is “pretty sentimental” as it will be the last one for this year’s graduating seniors — including Hladky’s son — who started the idea when they were fifth graders. Hladky said the involvement in the service event has grown since its creation and most people in the community now know what GIVE Day is.

“Kids really shine and have the opportunity to lead and step up,” Hladky said.

Connell Henderson, one of the 42 fifth grade ambassadors at Oak Street Elementary School, said his position is “pretty cool” as he and others get to help those in need. Henderson also said he likes working with high schoolers who help out with GIVE Day, and is looking forward to going

to the Food for Others warehouse.

This year, FCCPS is partnering with Food for Others for its Day of Service by organizing ‘Power Packs’ for children in the region who may not have enough food to eat. The packets will be distributed to local schools by Food for Others.

“When the representative from Food for Others came to talk at our meeting, I learned there are so many

He said locals can get involved with GIVE Day by coming to Meridian High School on January 16th to help the young GIVE Day club members assemble their Power Packs. There will also be other activities for families to help with — including making enrichment toys for animals in shelters and decorating reusable tote bags, as well as making donations on GIVE Day’s

FALLS CHURCH NEWS-PRESS | FCNP.COM PAGE 22 | JANUARY
12 - 18, 2023
GIVE DAY allows FCCPS students of all ages and grades to participate in a large community-wide service event since its start seven years ago. (Photo: Chrissy Henderson)
$300 • George Mason Head Coach Justin Walker welcomes you to register for this summer’s Softball Camps! Camps will focus on the fundamentals of all aspects of the game including proper throwing mechanics, increasing arm strength, defensive fundamentals (IF, OF, pitching & catching), swing mechanics & base running. • Players of all ability levels are welcome. Campers are divided by age & ability level. • We have assembled a veteran group of coaches experienced in camp instruction & dedicated to helping each camper become a better softball player. Location: George Mason University Softball Field Camps are open to any and all participants within the speci ed age range. Register at: https://www.justinwalkersoftballcamp.com JUNE 26TH - 28TH, 2023 JULY 24TH - 26TH, 2023 Youth (grades 1st-6th) JUSTIN WALKER SOFTBALL CAMP 2023 For questions about Justin Walker Softball Camp Please contact: Justin Walker 703-993-5630 (O) • 419-569-1853 (C) • jrosswal@gmu.edu George Mason University Attn: Justin Walker— Softball MS 3A5 4400 University Drive Fairfax, VA 22030 Sample Daily Schedule 9:00am: Check in 9:15am: Stations/Skill instruction 11:30am: LUNCH 12:15pm: Warm up 12:30pm: Position play/Skill instruction 1:00pm: Scrimmages 2:00pm: Pick up R E G I S T R A T I O N D A T E S C i t y R e s i d e n t s : F e b r u a r y 6 t h N o n - C i t y R e s i d e n t s : F e b r u a r y 1 3 t h H O W T O R E G I S T E R f a l l s c h u r c h v a g o v / r e g i s t e r 7 0 3 - 2 4 8 - 5 0 2 7 ( T T Y 7 1 1 ) S U M M E R 2 0 2 3 S U M M E R C A M P S C I T Y O F F A L L S C H U R C H R E C R E A T I O N & P A R K S R E G I S T R A T I O N O P E N S A T 8 : 0 0 A M

CAMPS & SCHOOLS

Summer Camp For All

For some lucky American children, summer means campfires with new friends, long hikes in the woods, hot days swimming in cool lakes, magical nights under starry skies.

Summer camp is a cherished experience for millions of children, an American tradition with deep roots in the country’s enduring romance with the great outdoors. As much of the United States reels from the pandemic, gun violence and threats to its democracy, the summer camps many have enjoyed for generations may offer something else: healing for America’s young people.

By nearly every measure, American youths are in distress.

A surgeon general’s report last year noted a 51 percent increase in emergency room visits for suspected suicide attempts by adolescent girls in early 2021 compared with the same period two years earlier.

Among high school students, 44 percent reported feeling persistently sad or hopeless in the past year, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey released in March.

More than 200,000 American children are estimated to have lost a parent or caregiver to Covid-19. Native American children lost parents or caregivers at more than three and a half times the rate for white children, according to a December report from Covid Collaborative, a national group of experts dedicated to helping children dealing with such losses. The report found that Black and Hispanic children lost parents or caregivers at more than two times the rate that white children did.

The kids are not OK, and why should they be? America is a country where large numbers of adults barely blink at the death of 1 million Americans from Covid-19, stand idly by as 19 children are shot dead in their classrooms in a single day and shrug as guns kill or maim thousands of children and teenagers every year. Those are our American traditions now.

The best gift America’s leaders could give young people is a healthy, functioning democracy. One small step the country could take to invest in their future, though, would be to come together around a new promise: to make summer camp available to every child in America.

Every year, about 26 million children attend roughly 15,000 day and overnight summer camps across the United States, said Tom Rosenberg, who leads the American Camp Association. There are roughly 57 million school-age children in the United States, according to recent U.S. census and homeschooling data.

It’s hard to imagine a more ideal escape for young people living through an extraordinary time of grief, loneliness and upheaval. At its best, camp can offer children a chance to learn outside the classroom, drawing them from their computer screens and helping them build stronger relationships with other children, themselves and nature. Especially for children living in poverty, summer camp can

be a great equalizer, giving them a chance to pick up essential life skills — such as swimming — often not taught in their communities. At many camps, children from diverse backgrounds forge lifelong friendships, develop a deep connection with and respect for nature, and learn to work as teams to overcome big challenges. These are values our democracy desperately needs.

Not every child will thrive at summer camp, and there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the outdoors and gain the benefits that come with socialization and play.

But if America wanted to, it could make summer camp accessible to every child who wanted to go.

There are camps that can serve nearly every child with every interest: camps for children who love to play sports or want to learn how to sail or ride horses, camps that offer weeks of backpacking along the Appalachian Trail or through the Utah desert, camps for children who have disabilities or are battling cancer or are experiencing homelessness.

Rosenberg said day camps range in cost from free to more than $200 per day and overnight camp prices range from free to more than $500 per day. Although scholarships and reduced fees are available at most camps, the experience remains out of reach for many, many families. To scale up, summer camp operators say they need a dedicated funding stream, more philanthropic aid and help with staffing.

No one is suggesting that a few weeks of summer camp is a cure-all. But researchers, educators and parents say the kind of experiences that summer camp can provide — a safe, healthy space to play with children who are different from them and to build confidence in the great outdoors — can change children’s lives.

Like so much of American life, access to safe and healthy spaces to play is unequal and especially disadvantageous to Black and Latino children. One study, commissioned by Hispanic Access Foundation and the Center for American Progress, found that nearly three-quarters of minorities in the contiguous United States live in communities that lack access to nature that includes clean air and water and a diversity of wildlife. Some funding for summer enrichment and after-school programs — at least $1.2 billion — was included in the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package last year.

Many large cities offer at least some summer programming for young people. New York City’s Summer Rising program is expected to serve 110,000 children in kindergarten through eighth grade this year. Programs such as this one serve a critical need, including by providing free meals. But while it does offer some recreation and field trips, the program largely focuses on academics. The city’s summer jobs program, which serves children as young as 14, is often sold to the public as a way to reduce crime.

There’s a better way. America’s children deserve to have some fun.

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January 23, 2023 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. RSVP at trsecc.org

Classes for children 2years-old through Kindergarten

Parent-child classes available for children under 2 Reggio-inspired community school Reform Jewish traditions and values trsecc.org 703.532.2227

FALLS CHURCH NEWS-PRESS | FCNP.COM JANUARY12-18,2023| PAGE 23
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CAMPS & SCHOOLS R E G I S T R A T I O N D A T E S C i t y R e s i d e n t s : F e b r u a r y 6 t h N o n - C i t y R e s i d e n t s : F e b r u a r y 1 3 t h H O W T O R E G I S T E R f a l l s c h u r c h v a g o v / r e g i s t e r 7 0 3 - 2 4 8 - 5 0 2 7 ( T T Y 7 1 1 ) S U M M E R 2 0 2 3 S U M M E R C A M P S C I T Y O F F A L L S C H U R C H R E C R E A T I O N & P A R K S R E G I S T R A T I O N O P E N S A T 8 : 0 0 A M Camps and Schools 2023 See Inside this Section Page 8: Local Programs Aim to Give Children With Special Needs a Camp Experience • Page 10: Theater Camps Teach the Arts & Life Skills to Children of All Ages Page 12: Henderson Middle Hosts Restorative Programs for Students Rising 1st-6th Grade June 20 - August 18, 2023 Falls Church, VA 8:30 am to 4:30 pm $340/week www.columbiabaptist.org/camp-columbia

CAMPS & SCHOOLS

Although the concept of a “camp” is a place offering simple group accommodations and organized recreation or instruction, these programs can mean much more to children who may find it difficult to participate in the physical activities a camp provides or the social aspect of it as well.

In the City of Falls Church and surrounding areas, there are camps that are specifically aimed at children and young adults with special needs. These camps allow those who may have physical or intellectual limitations a way to experience what makes a camp so fun and impactful for children their age.

LCF Kids is a children’s gym located in the Little City that focuses on skills such as gross and fine motor skills, motor planning, dynamic and static balancing, visual spatial awareness and more. Founded in 2011, the main goal of LCF is to create an environment for

children with special needs that provides them with a space where they can practice both physical exercise and motor/ social skills.

LCF also provides a variety of camps throughout the summer, spring and winter, such as the “Get Moving Get Social” therapeutic summer camp that incorporates movement, selfesteem building and social skills through the use of team sports.

Ricardo Cunningham, the founder of LCF Kids, said the camps and programs the gym provides are mostly geared toward children with physical or intellectual challenges to work on their motor and social skills. However, a participating child can bring a sibling along who may not have special needs so that the child can interact with someone they are more comfortable around.

This can also create the opportunity for other participating special needs children to experience playing and interacting with others who may not be like them, and vice versa.

“We are a very big advocate for inclusiveness,” Cunningham said. “We figure if the special needs kid can work with the typical kids, it will make our [camps] better.”

The camps provided by LCF also give families an option to send their child to a more local environment, compared to other programs that may be at further locations. According to Cunningham, the camps and programs only take place at their Falls Church location, due to the organization having various activities such as a rock wall, trampoline, and interactive/balance games that help a child physically and cognitively.

“Most of the equipment at the gym is designed to work on motor and cognitive skills naturally without the child even being aware,” Cunningham said.

An example would be the rock wall at the gym, which Cunningham said allows children to practice their physical skills by moving their arms, legs, toes and fingers, as well as

their cognitive skills by having to plan whether they want to go up, down, left or right.

The mindset behind these camps is to provide a way for a child to be able to participate in activities outside of the gym, such as going to school and playing on a playground.

According to Cunningham, if a child can participate in

the camps/programs offered by LCF and improve on their motor and cognitive skills, they have a better chance in taking those lessons into the outside world.

In Alexandria, Speech of Cake, Inc. provides help in personalized pediatric speech, lan-

FALLS CHURCH NEWS-PRESS | FCNP.COM PAGE 8 | JANUARY 19 - 25, 2023
Local Programs Aim to Give Children With Special Needs a Camp Experience PROGRAMS S UCH AS Speech of Cake’s helps children with physical and cognitive challenges be able to experience a “camp” setting. (P����: C������� O������)
Continued on Page 13 Grace Christian Academy Junior K - 8th grade Enrollment Opens Feb 1 www.gracechristianacademy.org (703)534-5517 3233 Annandale Road, Falls Church Prospective Parent Night January 23, 2023 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. RSVP at trsecc.org Temple Rodef Shalom Early Childhood Center Classes for children 2years-old through Kindergarten Parent-child classes available for children under 2 Reggio-inspired community school Reform Jewish traditions and values trsecc org 703.532.2227
CAMPS & SCHOOLS JANUARY 19 - 25, 2023 | PAGE 9 FALLS CHURCH NEWS-PRESS | FCNP.COM

CAMPS & SCHOOLS

Theater Camps Teach the Arts & Life Skills to Children of All Ages

When one thinks about the theater and performing in a show, they probably think it’s a way that a person can learn how to memorize lines or act with others. However, it can also be a way for young adults to learn about empathy and communication skills, as well as raise their self-esteem.

During the summer months, children can take part in camps and programs that explore the world of theater and what it takes to be an actor. According to a January 10th article by The New York Times, theater can also impact a child — between the ages of 5 and 18 — on developing their communication skills across age, gender and race. These communication skills can lead to someone possessing higher self-esteem and enjoying happier relationships.

The City of Falls Church hosts a variety of camps over the summer months, including programs focused on theater, improvisation and acting. Ashley Hammond is the managing director for Educational Theatre Company, which partners with the Little City to pro-

vide theater camps. This summer, Hammond said the city will be offering four theater camps catered to third through eighth grade children that focus on musical theater, theater skills, comedy improvisation and skits or sketches.

Hammond said that participating in these theater camps can help a child to learn about empathy and team-building skills; things she stated were interrupted due to the pandemic. She also said the teachers for the camps and programs are really good at making sure an individual child’s needs are met while keeping the rest of the group moving forward, she said.

As for how these theater camps can impact a child outside of the program and in the real world, Hammond said it can make children “better listeners, as well as learning how to work with others and becoming comfortable with public speaking.” One important thing she stated she has seen is that the theater camps can help a child “open their eyes to other cultures and worlds,” giving them an opportunity to understand various points of views.

“It’s about making a good

human,” Hammond said, “and I think theater brings young adults sympathy for other people.”

Heather Sanderson, the governor of education for The Little Theatre of Alexandria, said the main goal of providing theater camps and programs is to give children an “opportunity to explore what theater is all about, as well as broaden their horizons.” Since its opening almost 90 years ago, The Little Theatre offers about 50 camps and programs that take place between mid-June through the end of August.

“We’ve been told that these camps really open kids’ eyes to all sorts of different performing arts opportunities,” Sanderson said.

Sanderson also said theater camps can be a way for children to create friendships and learn and improve skills “they already have or want to build on.” She also said a child’s confidence can blossom from attending these camps and programs: A child who may be shy on the first day of camp on a Monday can gain enough self-esteem to perform in front of an audience on the last day of camp on a Friday.

“There is something about the programs that make kids feel great

about themselves,” Sanderson said. “They learn to cheer each other on and to be supportive of their peers.”

During the spring and summer breaks, Creative Cauldron offers theater camps based around a certain theme, which can explore “multicultural myths” to folktales, as well as a popular musical theater summer program.

“These camps really offer an opportunity for some kids to get their feet wet for the first time in act-

ing, theater and the arts,” Creative Cauldron’s founding artistic director Laura Connors Hull told the NewsPress. “It’s really important to honor creative ideas in kids and to give them a sense of agency about that.” Hull further stated participation in these camps is a way a child can learn about working with others as a team. This can lead to “great collaboration and communication

FALLS CHURCH NEWS-PRESS | FCNP.COM PAGE 10 | JANUARY 19 - 25, 2023
THE LITTLE THEATRE OF ALEXANDRIA’S main goal for hosting their theater camps is to give children an opportunity to “explore” what theater is all about. (P����: H������ S��������)
Continued on Page 13
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CAMPS & SCHOOLS

Henderson Middle Hosts Restorative Programs for Students

When a student goes to school, they may be expecting to learn about mathematics, science, history and more academic-based subjects. However, at Falls Church’s Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School, students are being taught ways to emphasize dialogue and connections with one’s self and others.

Inside Henderson Middle School classrooms, teachers are using what is called Restorative Practices to promote accountability amongst peers and restore “broken relationships” through peer mediation in the form of a circle.

According to an article by the International Institute for Restorative Practices, Restorative Practices is a field within the social sciences that studies how to strengthen relationships between individuals, as well as social connections within communities. These practices have deep roots within indigenous communities throughout the world.

MEHMS Special Education teacher Sara Tennyson teaches “social emotional learning” for the school’s social emotional learning flex classes.

Tennyson told the News-Press in an interview this week that the creation of the Restorative Practices circle has been about eight years in the making. She began being trained in the practices in 2016, which initially she had never heard about.

“Restorative practices are on a continuum,” Tennyson said. “The very beginning of the continuum is effective statements and on the other end are the harm circles.”

In her classroom, Tennyson helps students learn and experience restorative dialogue and justice through the use of circles in a classroom setting. The point and purpose of having these types of circles is to “promote organic communication” as well as “connectedness,” according to Tennyson.

One student in the FCCPS video on the subject said a typical day in the classroom begins with daily “checkins,” which can be a way to find out if a person is “upset or not” and to “help comfort them” if they need to be comforted.

Tennyson said another purpose of having the circle is that it’s “neverending,” as students take what they have learned in the circle outside of the classroom and use it throughout

the school day. So far, she said she has seen a “tremendous increase in the communication skills” with her students, as well as in maintaining eye contact with one another when speaking.

“I have seen just a huge increase in students’ ability to communicate,” Tennyson said.

There are also Restorative Justice Circles used in the classroom that are focused on harm and misbehavior. These circles can be used to help someone in the classroom or at school who has done something to harm others. They are also a way to teach students, staff and adults that “when harm is done in the community, it doesn’t affect just one person, but affects the entire well-being of the whole community.” The circles can give the victim a chance to share how they were impacted by the offender’s actions or words, while also allowing the opportunity for the offender to take accountability and apologize for their actions/words.

According to Tennyson, the Restorative Justice Circles can be a way to counteract the impact of punitive measures placed in a school, such as detention, suspension and/or expulsion. For example, if a student

is suspended for five days of school, they are not only missing academic time and falling further behind, but are given a message that he or she is not wanted at the school.

“Granted, there are definitely circumstances that do require an out-ofschool suspension,” Tennyson stated. “However, Restorative Practices aims to mediate that and say ‘You’re taking accountability, [instead of] just going out of school for five days.’”

In December, the class shifted focus into “authenticity building,” which Tennyson said transitioned

from “non-confrontational” questions to more “vulnerable” questions such as what would one do to change their school day.

As for how these Restorative Practices Circles can be important for various other school systems, Tennyson said they are “vital to school culture, communication and rapport building with students.” She further stated she has had other staff members join the circles and a mutual agreement has been reached that more such “emotional learning” should be taught in the classrooms.

FALLS CHURCH NEWS-PRESS | FCNP.COM PAGE 12 | JANUARY 19 - 25, 2023
TEACHER
Contact: Sue Johnson sjohnson@fcnp.com • 703-587-1282 Reaching The Falls Church, Fair fax and Arlington Markets Have a School or Camp You Want to Promote? Summer Programs • Camps • Colleges • Speciality Schools • Test Prep Early Childhood programs Nursery/Preschools • Elementary/Middle/High Schools Aftercare programs • Open Houses/Tours • Fall Recruitment • Study Abroad Bilingual and TESOL programs • Learning Centers/Test Prep/College Prep/Tutoring Tutoring • Online Education Services • Sports, Music & Theater Workshops
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Restorative Practices in her classroom (Photo: Sara Tennyson)
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Programs Getting ‘Bigger and Better’

guage, literacy and orofacial myofunctional programs. This summer, the organization will be providing two different camps in June and July that will help children with special needs. The first camp in June will be for children in third to fifth grade, focusing on literacy skills. The second camp will be for children entering kindergarten through second grade, which will focus on the instruction for articulation — like how to pronounce a sound.

Courtney Overton, the owner and founder of Speech of Cake, said she and her fellow co-founder Leigh Poole saw a need to introduce a summer enrichment program for students who “didn’t necessarily” qualify for special education services after both being former Fairfax County Public School teachers.

The camps and programs provided by Speech of Cake admit all “different types of students with different disabilities,” due to Overton and Poole’s belief that “inclusion

is very important” due to some children needing help with various instruction, such as articulation or literacy.

“We believe that all students have strengths,” Overton said. “We want to highlight that and make sure that each student is also getting what they need.”

Overton stated that every year, the camps and programs keep growing and “getting bigger and better” due to ideas coming from the staff and the guardians of the children who participate. She further said that there are not many camps like what Speech of Cake offers in Alexandria, and based on the results recorded from hosting their past programs, it has been “stunning” to see the progress of children learning how to read and overcome language difficulties, she said.

“We want everyone in the entire company to be able to do what we do in terms of educating [the children] and understanding the latest and greatest research.”

skills processes, while also learning to develop self-confidence,” she said.

“I can’t tell you how many former students have come back to say the experience they had at this performing arts camp helped them feel more comfortable when they were speaking in public and in all aspects of their lives,” Hull said. “These camps really develop social and emotional intelligence.”

The Traveling Players Ensemble hosts theater camps and conservatories for children from June to August. These camps can range from one week day camps to six week camps, including a one week sleepaway camp option. Greek myths, fairy tales and Shakespeare are taught and performed by the attendees of the camp, who range from young children to high schoolers.

Jeanne Harrison, the founder and producing artistic director for the Traveling Players said the main goal of hosting these camps and conservatories is providing “joy and connection.” She further stated these camps can be a way that children can figure

out who they are while also learning how to memorize lines, lead others, think on their feet and “free up their imagination.”

Morgan Shotwell is the director of communication outreach at the Traveling Players as well as a theater camp “alum.” She said taking part in these camps can teach both soft skills, such as communication and connecting with others, as well as “hard life” skills that can teach them about independence, such as learning how to do their own laundry and

cleaning their dishes while attending the sleep away camp program.

“It’s really easy to do camp chores, but it lets them take ownership of their space and their experience,” Shotwell said.

Both Harrison and Shotwell said these types of camps and conservatories, such as the weekly theater camps and sleepaway camp, can give young adults the ability to go to college and “find their footing really fast” due to them learning both creativity and independence.

JANUARY 19 - 25, 2023 | PAGE 13 Continued from Page 8 FCNP.COM | FALLS CHURCH NEWS-PRESS
CAMPS & SCHOOLS
Theater Camps Help Teach Agency and Promote Empathy Continued from Page 10
“my growth as an actor was immediately evident” Grades 2-12 travelingplayers.org • 703-987-1712 • Visit Our Tysons Corner Studio Sleepaway Acting Camps Beginner & Advanced Actor Training SMALL BY DESIGN • AWARDED FOR EXCELLENCE Day Camps in Tysons! REGISTER TODAY ShakespeareTheatre.org | 202.547.5688 JUN 20–AUG 19 TWO- AND THREE-WEEK SESSIONS CAMP SHAKESPEARE 2023
THE TRAVELING PLAYERS ENSEMBLE have theater camps ranging from day camps to overnight camps. (Photo: Jessica Wallach)

Falls Church School

Fourth Graders Present Artifact Showcase

The Fourth Grade students at Oak Street Elementary created an Artifacts Showcase shortly after their trip to Jamestown. Students were tasked to create an artifact that could have been found in or around the Jamestown area. During their PYP Unit of Inquiry, Where We are in Place and Time, students discussed and explored the fundamental concepts of change and causation through the lens of the earliest inhabitants of Virginia. Students in the fourth-grade classes could retell a small part of their stories with the artifacts they created and the journals they wrote from the perspectives of the two cultures that met in Jamestown in the early 1600s.

This Year’s Give Day A Smashing Success

The Elementary GIVE Day Club hosted almost 350 attendees who came and assembled 2,147 power packs. The Falls Church Chapter of AKA Sorority assisted the behindthe-scenes crew of ambassadors, Meridian mentors, and parent volunteers. In addition to Power Packs, the community donated several hundred pounds worth of canned goods to the Food For Others Food Bank. Attendees also helped sort sports gear that will be shipped to Africa, designed reusable tote bags for groceries, and made enrichment toys for small pets to donate to the animal shelter.

More than 120 middle and high schoolers packed 25,000 pasta meals for the Outreach Program. Half of the meals packed will be sent to local food banks to feed families in our area. The other half will go to

Ukraine. GIVE Day Ambassadors — students who’ve spent the past two months planning GIVE Day and running fundraisers — set up (and cleaned up) the packing stations and trained their peers in the packing process. The MEH GIVE Day Ambassadors would like to shout out 8th grade English teacher Ross Mandel, the school GIVE Day sponsor; the nearly 20 teachers and administrators who volunteered either to get pied or have their hair redone by students to raise money for GIVE Day; and the many community members whose financial support made this packing day possible.

Operation EarthWatch Open for Students

All elementary students are invited to participate in Operation EarthWatch. This month’s theme is

Recycle and Reuse. Complete all five activity sheets (November to March) to receive a free T-shirt and certificate and be eligible to march with other EarthWatchers in the Memorial Day Parade.

Local Students Selected for District Honor Band

In December, MEH and MHS Band students prepared a rigorous

set of audition materials in hopes of being admitted into their respective District Honor Band middle and high school ensembles. Students competed against the other top students in our regional district, including Alexandria City and Fairfax County Public Schools. Hear these hard working musicians in concert on Saturday, February 4th, at Hayfield Secondary School, at 2 p.m. as they prepare and showcase a full concert program in mere days.

PAGE 14 | JANUARY 19 - 25, 2023 FALLS CHURCH NEWS-PRESS | FCNP.COM
News & Notes SCHOOLS
THE ELEMENTARY GIVE DAY CLUB hosted almost 350 attendees who came to assemble 2,147 power packs. The community donated several hundred pounds of canned goods. (Photo: FCCPS Photos)