Reaching to the Future Together
Writer / Alaina Sullivan . Photos / Provided
The education and future of Center Grove youth is important to the community, but for the members and staff at the Center Grove Education Foundation (CGEF), it is even more so. CGEF strives to ensure that all Center Grove students receive opportunities to grow, learn and pursue their dreams through the various programs the foundation funds.
It is the financial support of the community that allows CGEF to fund programs like Camp REACH, a one-week day camp aimed at helping children of all ages embrace learning and build confidence to succeed. CGEF receives this financial support through donations and fundraising events.
One of these events is CGEF’s annual Gala. On February 28, the foundation will hold its Gala at the Indiana Roof Ballroom. It is the foundation’s main fundraiser for the entire year and gives CGEF the opportunity to fulfill its mission of partnering with the community to enrich the lives of all Center Grove Community School Corporation students by funding “extraordinary and innovative learning experiences.”
The theme, “To the Future Together,” plays on “Back to the Future II,” which is set in 2015. At the event, CGEF will look back to the past and forward to the future.
Looking back, Center Grove High School classes of 1965, 1990 and 2005, celebrating their 50th, 25th and 10th anniversaries, will be recognized as well at the event, said Johnson.
They look to the future by presenting ideas that have come from CG 100 meetings, community meetings to brainstorm what members would like to see through their schools. All recommendations are sent to the strategic planning committee. The proposal chosen by the committee is then announced at the Gala.
For the past two years, Camp REACH has been the recipient of those funds. After last year’s Gala, CGEF presented a check to the school board for $60,000, which was the single largest disbursement they have made in the history of the organization, said Johnson. This check allowed the school district to fund its pilot program in 2014.
This kindergarten through fifth grade day camp is held during one week of the Center Grove fall intercession. Brian Proctor, principal for North Grove Elementary, coordinates the camp with the curriculum designed by Dr. Wendy Kruger.
The program is full day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the school providing lunch. Each grade has a classroom which can range in size from seven students to 18. The camp also has two extra classrooms: one a fourth/fifth grade enrichment class and a fourth/fifth grade extension class. The students have art each day for 35 minutes, and Proctor said a larger activity would be scheduled to include the entire group as a way to incorporate the day’s theme.
Last year’s Camp included eight classroom teachers and one art teacher. “The teachers did the phenomenal work in terms of lesson planning and keeping the children engaged every day,” said Proctor.
The Camp features both remediation and enrichment for students who are not recommended for remediation. Enrichment can be anything from art to foreign language to technology. The remediation allows students to dig into learning on their own schedule and in a unique setting. Reading fluency is a large focus among other subjects. Proctor said the approach he took was “hands-on” with activities that could get the children interested and involved in what they were learning.
“The REACH program really has a perfect design in that it helps students of all ages and abilities,” said Johnson.
When the children first arrive Monday, Johnson said, many are feeling down, sad that they are at school while their other classmates are not. This feeling soon goes away, however, as soon as the first day starts. There is a theme for each day. Last year’s themes included a Lego Day, Mystery Day, Earth Day, Silly Safari and Fall Festival.
“We just tried to provide a low stress but high expectation environment that kept kids thinking about school, reading and kept them challenged through the rest of the week,” said Proctor.
The pilot Camp included 70 children in total. In Proctor’s opinion, this camp can and should expand to include more children in the district. “There’s no reason why this program couldn’t have 400 plus elementary kids,” said Proctor.
Proctor said they had to turn people away who wanted to sign up post-deadline. Arguably, the interest and the capacity are there; he hopes future funding will allow the program to expand and serve even more Center Grove students.