New summer school program for D91, D90 students

Power Scholars will follow the BELL curriculum to address the minority achievement gap

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By Nona Tepper

Staff Reporter

Four organizations are fighting this summer for student equity in Forest Park and River Forest.

District 90 River Forest and District 91 Forest Park schools, the West Cook YMCA, and the Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL) educational curriculum have partnered to start Power Scholars Academy, a summer school program meant to foster emotional, social and educational development for students who need something outside the classroom. 

"Through this partnership, we will be able to offer students a high-quality, evidence-based, summer program that includes academic and social/emotional development, as well as enrichment activities," said Louis Cavallo, D91 superintendent, in a released statement.

Organizations will choose 120 students from D91 and D90 to participate in the five-week, full-day summer program. Classes start in June 2018 and run Monday through Friday at Field Stevenson Elementary School at 925 Beloit Ave. Schools will choose students from grades 1-5 to participate, and invitations will be sent later this winter, said Dawne Simmons, D91 spokeswoman. 

The measures by which students will be selected are not yet finalized, but students, both gifted and those who struggle academically and emotionally, will be considered, Simmons said. 

"It's for students who need something outside the classroom," she said. 

The BELL curriculum was developed, in part, to address the gap in test scores that consistently exists between minority and low-income students and their majority-white counterparts. 

Up to 40 kids from D90 will be selected for the program; the rest will come from D91, Simmons said. Breakfast, lunch and transportation will be provided by the schools. 

Classes will be taught by teachers trained in the BELL curriculum, which combines small-group instruction with field trips, community service projects and mentoring activities, such as college and career presentations. At least three hours of the daily program will be dedicated to math and literacy skills, an hour devoted to exercise and the rest dedicated to hands-on learning. Power Scholars will also work to engage student's families by hosting at least two special events. 

 "The Power Scholars Academy represents a key partnership that District 90 is developing in order to leverage the district's resources and strengthen relationships within the community on behalf of our students," said Ed Condon, D90 superintendent.

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