Londons summer school takes a creative turn

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London Elementary School is thinking outside the box and ahead of the game for its summer school program in hopes that more students will participate.

At the Dec. 17 London Board of Education meeting, Principal Carol Daniels explained that teachers will present a camp atmosphere in place of the stodgy books-and-desks approach from the past.

"We want to get back to hands-on experiences, not just sitting in front of books," she said. "We’re looking at creative ways to entice students into getting into the groove of learning as school gets ready to start."

The sessions will take place from 8 a.m. to noon weekdays for the three weeks before the 2008-09 school year begins. Monday through Thursday, the sessions will take place at the school. Fridays will be reserved for field trips to local sites, such as the public library, history museum or fish hatchery.

Superintendent Steve Allen said summer school also could be a chance for teachers to infuse art into a learning environment, as the district does not have a regular art program during the school year. Music and computers also could be part of the offerings.

The summer school will be open to all students entering first grade through sixth grade, not just those who didn’t pass the third-grade achievement test, as has been the case in the past. A sliding fee scale will make the summer school accessible to everyone.

"We want to emphasize that this summer school will not be only for remediation but for enrichment, too. We want as many students there as possible," said Superintendent Steve Allen.

Daniels said the new approach is possible because the district is setting aside more money for it than they did in the past.

"It’s just better use of the federal money we’ve always been getting," said Allen, who explained that he and Treasurer Britt Lewis are carefully budgeting the money the district receives from state and federal coffers.  

 Coach Cochran Gym

At their next meeting, school board members will consider naming the middle school gym after a London resident whose connection to the district goes back decades. Les Takacs and other London residents made the suggestion.

"I feel that it would be an appropriate tribute to name the London Middle School gymnasium in honor of Coach Charles Lee Cochran for all his hard work and life-long dedication to the students and athletes of the London Schools," Takacs wrote in a letter to the board.

Cochran coached football, basketball, track and baseball at London from 1951 to 1982. He started the track and field program at the high school in 1952 and was assistant football coach to Jim Bowlus and Bill Conley during London’s championship football seasons. Cochran also served as athletic director in 1980 and 1981. After he retired, he was inducted into the London Athletic Hall of Fame.

Board member Nancy Smith expressed support for naming the gym after Cochran, saying he was part of a trio of coaches, including Ray Chadwell and Jim Bowlus, from the 1950s through the 1970s who were integral to London’s athletic success. The high school gym is named after Chadwell. The football field is named after Bowlus.

Next Meeting

The school board will next meet at 8:15 a.m. Jan. 4 to select new members of the London Academy Board. At 6:30 p.m. Jan. 14, they will meet in the high school lecture hall for their annual organizational meeting and regular meeting.

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