DSC_0184LRGby Stephanie Linton
Oquirrh Hills Community School Coordinator

At Oquirrh Hills Elementary, summer is about to get a whole lot better! School faculty, Boys & Girls Clubs of South Valley staff, and United Way of Salt Lake employees have been working to provide more opportunities for our students during summer.

In the past, Title I funding had allowed school faculty to host a six-week summer program to prepare students for the following school year. Due to the loss of Title I funding during the 2011-2012 school year, that summer program was cancelled. Academically, we saw a drop in students’ achievement by 14%, as compared to an 18% increase in summers where an academic program operated.

In efforts to combat the effects of summer learning loss, a grant through United Way of Salt Lake, along with additional resources from Oquirrh Hills Elementary and the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Valley, our school will provide an 11-week summer program to its students. Trudy Adams, Literacy Coach and Ashley Berry, Program Director for the BGCSV program at Oquirrh Hills, have been coordinating efforts to fully align curriculum, programming, and staff to specifically meet the needs of our students. Programming in science, technology, engineering, arts, math, and literacy (as well as a kindergarten readiness programs for pre-kindergarten students) will be offered during these 11 weeks, free of charge.

Students will also have the opportunity to experience expanded learning through field trips to places such as the Clark Planetarium, Sandy Aquarium, Heritage Park, Hogle Zoo, Tracy Aviary, Thanksgiving Point Dinosaur Museum, and Wheeler Farm.  United Way of Salt Lake’s volunteer and community engagement director, Heather MacDonald, has been working on engaging volunteers to act as chaperones during these exciting experiences, giving our students another great opportunity to meet successful individuals from our community (if you are interested in volunteering, please contact Heather at heather@uw.org).

We have had an overwhelming response from parents, students, and faculty looking to participate in our summer program.  A great deal of gratitude is in order for all those involved in making this program a reality, and for making our summer just a little brighter. This process has been a truly inspiring experience and a perfect example of Collective Impact at its finest!