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Extended School Year Program Applies Olympic Theme to Summer Learning

Photo of teacher Mary Naja. thumbnail188319
Mary Naja displays a goldfish while leading a lesson on living vs. non-living objects.

The Smithtown Central School District’s Extended School Year Program annually picks a theme. And this year, “The Smithtown Olympics” seemed the perfect choice, according to lead teacher Matthew Connolly.

“Friendship building, teamwork, working as a group. That’s what the theme, ‘Smithtown Olympics,’ stands for,” Connolly said. “And also to get out and move. We have our field day. There’s a lot of movement and a lot of activity.”

Along with addressing academics and each child’s individualized goals to prevent skill regression, the Extended School Year Program focuses on establishing friendships, promoting empathy and conflict resolution skills, and developing compassion.

The program takes place weekdays from July 7 through Aug. 17 for five hours each day at Smithtown Elementary School.

There are 136 students entering the first through eighth grades taking part in the program, plus an additional 26 who come specifically for services such as speech, counseling, occupational therapy, physical therapy and vision- and hearing-related services.

There are weekly visits from the Smithtown Library as part of their summer reading community outreach program.

Each class has either a study skills class or physical education each day. A physical education teacher emphasizes nutrition and wellness.

And a psychologist and social worker provide daily visits to the classrooms to provide and model strategies for improved peer interaction and to lessen peer conflicts.

“Spirit Tuesdays” occur weekly, with activities such as sports apparel day, Smithtown colors day, mismatch day and hat day. In addition to the field day, there also are a carnival and picnic.

Connolly, who serves a speech teacher at Accompsett Middle School during the academic year, expressed particular gratitude to the Smithtown Elementary School custodial staff, led by Pat Chiello, in serving the students.

“The six weeks we focus on goals from the past school year that they’ve achieved and that still need working on,” Connolly said.