FLORENCE, S.C. – Two students earned new scooters Friday while others took home an age-appropriate collection of books along with puzzles, slime and other items as Savannah Grove Elementary School marked the end of its annual summer reading camp.
"They will get one of each book here, a bag, another bag, a puzzle, a word search, a game, a card game, a slime kit, a towel, a little skip thing," Cherisse Thayer, the reading coach at the school, said as she moved from table to table to highlight the rewards.
“I had teachers reach out to them to find out what their favorite candy was, and I got that for them and then a little water shooter."
All in all, each student took home at least 17 books from the camp.
The students – from Dewey L. Carter, Greenwood and Savannah Grove elementary schools – were there to make sure they read at the fourth-grade level as they transitioned from third to fourth grade.
Participation in years past has been based on state testing scores, but there were no state tests this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Thayer said.
This year teachers and administrators looked at last year's scores and then had those students test to see how they were doing this year.
Thayer said some students, aware of the impending test, studied and scored well above where they needed to skip the camp.
Those in the camp received three weeks of intensive online instruction, five days a week from 9 to 11:30 a.m.
They received reading and writing instruction Monday through Thursday, and on Friday they did book talks, virtual field trips and other online activities.
This year's reading camp theme was to have been the Olympics, Thayer said. But the games met the same fate state testing did – COVID-19.
The theme was changed to “Reading – The Code to Adventures,” with a focus on Hawaii, New York and the Grand Canyon, which were the destinations for the virtual field trips, she said.
The camp was originally planned to be face-to-face but, in a very short time, it was converted by teachers to an online program that, combined with parental support, was a success for the students, Thayer said.
"Our teachers are phenomenal,” she said. “I can't say enough for their hard work and what they gave up to make it happen. It was definitely a school/home partnership this year that made it successful."
This year's rewards were provided by St. Catherine's Episcopal Church, while Savannah Grove's Beta Club and Safety Patrol teamed up to make sure the other two reading camp sites in the district each had a pair of scooters, Thayer said.
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