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OUS#8217; Academy of Excellence brings joy to education

While most kids probably dream of a summer without school, some headed to Ohio University Southern this past week to pack a little more knowledge into their brains.

This is the final week of the Academy of Excellence/Primary Scholarship program that lets area students pick the classes they want to take rather than the ones they have to take.

Some headed for the basketball courts, some to the science lab, others learned about the Tri-State and others were learning the ancient art of sewing.

The program’s on-site coordinator Linda Mann said a lot of the teachers were her former Early Education students.

“We’re getting them into the trenches,” she said with a laugh.

She said there were158 students this year.

“The majority of these students are in the top 10 percent of their classes,” Mann said, adding that it pulls students from not only Ohio, but also Kentucky and West Virginia. “It’s just a great group of kids.”

The program is actually two sections, the Academy of Excellence is for students in fifth grade and up, and Primary Scholars Program is for grades 1 through 4.

Renee Williams had two purposes for being at OUS, she was teaching a class on the weather and her two boys were taking a class.

The substitute teacher from Rock Hill was watching her students run around the Riffe Auditorium for an exercise class.

“This is a wonderful program for the children,” she said. “It gives them an opportunity to work with their peers and there is a wide variety of things they might not be exposed to in a regular classroom. And there is no homework, no tests.”

Her son, eight-year old Matthew, met up with his mother as his class waited for their turn to exercise.

“I like playing the games on the computers,” he said, when asked about his favorite part. And did he think he wanted to come back next year?

“Yeah.”

South Point Elementary physical education teacher Mike Pleasant was in charge of getting the kids to exercise.

“I love this,” he said. “It is a great way to get them away from video games and get them up and moving. I try to play a variety of games with them and inspire them to play and move.”

Alice Brown, who retired from the Ironton School system after 35 years and teaches at OUS, was teaching the Weird Science class because she “loves teaching.”

Instead of going out of a book, she was teaching by making it a game. To learn about how water moves around the world, she combined a dice game with various stations like “ocean” and “glacier.”

The kids go to a station, collect a bead and then roll a foam dice to see where they go next. After they’ve been to all the stations, the beads are made into a bracelet and they have to explain how the water moved from one state to another.

A high-demand game was an animal track version of “Twister.”

“They picked that game up right away and they are bugging me to play it again today,” she said. She added since the kids are there voluntarily, they are more enthusiastic and cooperative about learning.

Gina Fraley was teaching a classroom of girls what she called “a dead art” - sewing.

The special education teacher from the Open Door School said that since public schools no longer teach sewing, younger kids don’t learn to sew anymore.

“I’m trying to keep it alive by teaching it wherever I can,” she said, adding a lot of grandmothers sew while not a lot of mothers do.

And the kids in the class were enthusiastic, if a little confused by some things like the trick of learning how to thread a needle, operating a sewing machine and how to cut material.

Fraley said most of the students were there because it was creative and it was a challenge.

Mariah Sutters said she was taking the class because she wanted to be a decorator.

“And I want to make my own Halloween costumes,” she said.

Arianna Brown said she wanted to be a costume designer. When asked whether she wanted to work on Broadway or Hollywood, she replied “yes.”