July 27, 2013

Learning the fun way


---- — PLATTSBURGH — Summer Safari is two weeks away from, once again, completing fun and enriching programming for children, tweens and teens at SUNY Plattsburgh.

In its 26th year, the program debuted with a science and an art class.

“This year, we had 36 classes,” said Kate Chilton, conference director for College Auxiliary Services.

“They don’t all go. If we get the bare minimum, we will run it. Some classes are small. Two classes only have four kids. They get a lot of hands-on, regardless. Typically, we keep the classes to 12. The theater production is different. We need that critical mass to make it work.”

This summer, 265 children explored a range of classes about distant lands, digital photography, and hip-hop dance and choreography.

“New this year was ‘Across the Galaxy’ for ages 6 to 7,” Chilton said. “It was about astronomy. They learn how long it takes the earth to orbit the sun, and the moon to orbit the earth, and look to the skies and beyond as they explore planets, asteroids, constellations and all that.”

“Money & Me Biz Kid$” was a new class in the math and finance category for ages 13 to 18 taught by Karen Rock, a teacher at Peru Central School, and Jody Carpenter of UFirst Credit Union.

“That was offered in conjunction with UFirst Credit Union to help students understand the essentials of financial literacy. They learn personal banking, how to manage credit wisely and fill out income-tax forms and evaluate insurance needs,” Chilton said.

The historically themed “An American Girl Adventure” class filled so quickly a second class was also taught by instructor Marie Denis, a school counselor at Morrisonville Elementary School.

Participants learned about the lives of “Felicity” and her friend “Elizabeth,” who grew up in Colonial America. “Kit” and “Ruthie” learned lessons about making do without during the Great Depression. “Molly” and “Emily” were witnesses to everyone doing their part during World War II. 

“They have different ages in which these little dolls were supposed to come from,” Chilton said. “They (children) learned all about the depressions, Civil War and World War II. That was very cool.”

Art classes abounded, with intros to drawing, watercolor and animal art.

Dean Delano, a graphic designer from Delano Design, did “Art in the Secret Garden.” 

“Just fairies, gnomes and things like that. They made planters, bird houses and all sorts of neat stuff,” Chilton said.

Jody Nebesnik, a local artist and textile designer, has two upcoming classes: “A World of Patterns” and “Surface Decoration for Everyday Use.” 

“A World of Patterns” is for ages 7 to 9 and explores black-and-white technique, full-color landscapes, cityscapes and Moroccan-inspired collages.

“Surface Decoration for Everyday Use” is for ages 10 to 13 and teaches children how to design and create prints for stationery, home furnishings and clothing.

Ashlee Goddeau, a substitute teacher at Beekmantown Central School and adjunct lecturer at Clinton Community College, teaches students how to recycle crayons into works of art in “Melted Crayon Art” for ages 9 to 11.

Literature classes offered include “A Series of Series” and “A Character a Day,” taught by John Provost of Mooers Elementary School.

“We have a lot of literature for the little guys,” Chilton said. “In ‘Reading Art & Edibles,’ they read their favorite story like the ‘Rainbow Fish,’ ‘Very Hungry Caterpillar’ or ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog.’ They make a craft relevant to the book and have a little snack to go along with their story.”

The class is taught by Diane Pecoraro, a teacher at Morrisonville Elementary School.

A production of Disney’s “My Son Pinocchio Jr.” was a star-studded Safari highlight earlier this week. It was directed by Gilles and Mary Fortin. Kym Taylor Reid was choreographer.

“There are 47 kids in the play,” Chilton said. “Every year, they take a rag-tag bunch of children, and in three weeks they do a full-scale production. It’s just remarkable.”

Registration is closed for the remainder of this year’s Summer Safari classes.

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