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The Story of Summer School

Maddie Clarke, Staff

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Summer school: many students think of it as a punishment for not doing well during the school year, but it can also be an opportunity to gain lost credits from failed classes or even accelerate in academics for the next school year. 

Summer school is held each July at Catonsville High School for CHS students who attend the high school.. The classes are held around the same time every morning until 11:30 during weekdays. Every high school in BCPS has their own summer school program.  

“It starts at the same time, but it’s only half a day, and some students complete work outside of the classroom,” stated guidance counselor Todd Pinson. 

The program is officially called Extended Year Learning Program, EYLP for short. The courses are APEX courses, which are online, self-paced courses, offered at CHS during the school year as well. This program is called SPARC, and it meets during the school day and after school. 

“There’s not a lot of hustle and bustle about the classroom; the kids have their own laptops, and they are usually quiet and focused on the course because they don’t want to repeat it,” explained Mr. Pinson. 

Many teachers at CHS guide summer school courses; Richard Hambor, Marie Thrailkill, Todd Pinson, Joe Karbowniczek, Rebecca Mello, and Courtney Fleming have all taught summer school at CHS. 

Sharon Gallagher, coordinator of the Office of Educational Options, works to provide students with opportunities outside of the traditional classroom. She oversees both extended year and extended day learning programs. Whether a student is incapable of coming to school or has trouble learning in the public-school environment, the office provides them with another way to earn the credits they need. 

“We find that students have different goals other than getting through and getting a high school diploma. Many want different experiences and want to relate it to something that is meaningful to them,” Gallagher expressed. 

During summer school, students are not only given the opportunity to make up a course they failed, but they are also given the opportunity to complete a course in advance. If a student wants a head start for their next school year, they could talk to their guidance counselor and explore their options regarding summer school. 

“It’s a lot different from when I was in summer school where you went because you weren’t successful in a day time program. Now, the effectiveness of it is student-centered, and you get out of it what you put into it. If you go in the summer and put your time and energy in, you can earn the credit,” Ms. Gallagher said. 

The environment of summer school over the years has changed, and many students who participate in the program are focused mainly on learning the material and completing the course. Now that we have technology at our fingertips, the programs are in a simpler structure, effective for teenagers nowadays. 

“Years ago, It wasn’t helpful at all. The teachers just sat around and let the students do whatever they wanted,” explained former summer school student Elizabeth Campbell. 

Some students, and even teachers, don’t prefer APEX for learning. Information sticks in different way with different people. Some prefer visual learning, hands-on learning, practiced learning, and then some love having self-paced online classes.  

“I try to keep my students laughing and engaged which is hard sometimes because the material is dry, I wouldn’t recommend it as an option for getting ahead,” explained the summer school math teacher Joe Karbowniczek. 

If summer school is not for you, the Office of Educational Options have other extended year and extended day learning programs. Visit their website: https://www.bcps.org/programs/edoptions/extendedYearLearning.html 

Maddie Clarke, writer

My name is Maddie, and I look like the girl from the movie Brave.

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The Story of Summer School