WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Separated into groups under a tent outside Kistler Elementary in Wilkes-Barre, kindergarteners through eighth-graders participated in the "Step up with the Pack" program.
"The goal of the program is to help recoup some of the learning loss that students have had since the pandemic," explained Wilkes-Barre Area School District K-12 Supervisor Mike Corcoran. "The goal is to get kids working and engaged in some project-based learning."
It's a lot of work, but according to the students, there's a lot that makes this summer learning fun and heading into the next grade less stressful.
"The teachers, having new friends, knowing that you'll go in there with more friends," said seventh-grader Giuliana Mantione.
"Especially because they teach you more about where and how you could get through things and how to have fun through going through these intimidating times, and it really helps you a lot being in this program," said seventh-grader Aolani Alfonso of Wilkes-Barre.
After projects and lunch, the students will do some physical activity that includes building teamwork and stress management skills.
"It's hard; they're very stressed," said program manager Sandy Marinko. "These yoga skills are teaching them how to calm themselves down right there when they're in class. We talked about breathing up as you're going up a mountain, breathing out as you go down a mountain, just learning skills to help you to relax,"
Organizers tell Newswatch 16 that this is beneficial not only to the students in the program but to the teachers too, who get a little bit of a different setting than that traditional classroom.
"For example, we have one teacher who is a kindergarten teacher while she's working with second, third graders, so she gets to see some of her old kindergarten kids, and the kids love that," added Marinko.
"I absolutely love it," said Martione. "I met new friends, and I loved learning about Wilkes-Barre, the city I live in."
This program is also taking place at two other elementary schools in the district.
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