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Friday, May 14, 2021

When school bell rings, learning continues with enrichment programs for kids in Bellingham

How does someone make taking out the trash fun for kids? By making it a trash relay, of course.

And teaching some important environmental lessons along the way. Early Release Enrichment programs like this are designed to give elementary school students in the Bellingham School District an alternative to traditional childcare, and happens seven times a quarter.

This session Thursday, Oct. 15, was called “Go Green,” but some of the other themes for this quarter are, “Yucky Science,” “Out in Space,” and “Things that Fly.”

These students get to come onto Western’s campus and experience its resources, like the environmental science building, the outback farm, as well as experience chemistry and science, program coordinator Juliet Holzknecht said.

The goals for the program is to give children the chance to have more of a hands on experience with science, and to grow art programs.  Western uses this program as an early recruitment tool as well, Holzknecht said.

“The program helps students see themselves on a college campus, it is one more step to help them think about applying to college and exploring that option,” Holzknecht said.

The “Go Green” session consisted of the students learning about the three R’s, reduce, reuse, recycle.  The students did many different activities to learn about recycling and sustainability, like sorting pieces of trash between three different categories: garbage, compost and recycle. One of the outside activities the students did was have a garbage sweep relay race.

Aside from providing opportunities to children, the Early Release Enrichment Program also helps pre-teaching students from Woodring get a chance to experience hands on training in a classroom setting, Holzknecht said.  

Elijah Davis who is majoring in elementary education with a focus on general science, is one of the Early Release Enrichment teachers.

“This program benefits Western because it gives you experience that is more hands on.  It is more self-driven, and you can test different lesson ideas,” Davis said.

Olivia Shawen is the program support assistant, and said she finds the program beneficial because it helps makes science fun.  

“We show the students that science is fun and exciting, and try to inspire them,” Shawen said.  

It is good to introduce the kids to a university early and they build up expectations, it is important for them to know they can go to college regardless of their background, Shawen said.

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