The Third Annual English as a Second Language (ESL) Summer Camp was held from June 10-14 in Milbank. Christine Townsend, director and lead teacher of the camp, says the camps are open to kindergarteners through eighth graders and the number of participating students has doubled. She says,”With the growing number of English learners in our district, our camps have also gotten larger each year. The first year we enrolled under 20 students; this year, we had around 40.”
Another change this year, was the students were grouped by grade level instead of by English proficiency scores. Students without a lot of experience with English were mixed with students with more fluency. Townsend says she believes this encourages and helps the newcomers to learn more.
The goal of the camp, Townsend says is to expose the campers to more English. “We want them hearing it, reading it, writing it, and speaking it. The camp is a mix of academic study, American culture lessons, and fun activities.” Students enjoy being with other students who are also learning English along with the chance to socialize in their native language.
Each summer, Townsend says she chooses a theme. This year’s theme was Community. She says, “Students learned about businesses, jobs, goods and services, and needs and wants. Older students were also introduced to possible career choices. During the two weeks, we visited many businesses along Main Street in Milbank. This gave students the opportunity to learn what Milbank businesses have to offer and learn more about our community. Each student created a book of Milbank businesses for their family.”
The group of oldest students designed the tee-shirt for the camp. The shirts say BILINGUAL= AWESOME. They also feature the word LEARN in English, Spanish, and Mandarin – the native languages spoken by the students at the camp. The camp concluded with the students tie-dying the shirts.
Townsend, who is the ESL and Migrant Education Instructor for the Milbank School District, was assisted by Kari Schmeichel, a teacher at Blue Sky Colony; Kerry Wold, a Title and ESL paraprofessional; and Hether Voeltz, a computer teacher at MHS. Jose Alonso Flores, Yamileth Arano, and Yulissa Sanchez served as the high school assistants.
Top Photo Submitted-T-shirts donated by Street Graphex