Emma Sansom Middle hosts camp for ESL students


By Sarrah Peters, News Editor

This year, Emma Samson Middle School started a camp for students who are English as a second language learners.

Marcia Farabee, who spent time working with English language learner camps throughout Alabama, was inspired to start the camp when she returned to working at Gadsden City Schools and realized there was not a similar camp in the school system.

A dozen middle school students participated in the two-week Monday through Thursday camp. The students not only got to practice their English but also learn about science, math, social studies, art, cooking and physical activities.

The camp’s theme was “Salvaje Summer.” Salvaje is a Spanish word for “wild.”

“I don’t think the kids realize how much they are applying math and science with these activities,” said Farabee. “We want it to be engaging, not stressful.”

Farabee’s first step to get the camp underway was to find passionate teachers. She said that she encouraged the teachers to try the things they would like to do during the school year but weren’t able to. Most of the activities allow the students to relate skills to real-life situations.

On Wednesday, June 12, students learned about heart rates before and after exercise. Students then learned about the hearts of wildlife with a fun matching game, which matched facts with the right animal. This was followed by a scavenger hunt for animal figurines.

Camp activities also include trying new physical activities such as archery, tennis, basketball and football. The students complete  art projects like tye-dying shirts, which the teachers used as an opportunity to introduce some chemistry to the students. The students even make their own snacks, including cheese quesadillas, smoothies, pork chops, ice cream and soft pretzels.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” said teacher Laurie Smith. “And [students] have gotten a chance to practice their English. Many of them speak another language in the home, so it’s helpful for them to be here for two weeks speaking only English and listening to English.”

The camp went on two field trips. The first trip was to the Anniston Museum of Natural History, where students learned more about science, including nature and animals. The second trip was to Bama Bucks, where kids learned about animals and food. They got to sample wild boar, bison and gator.

This is the first year this camp has been held, but Farabee and the teachers are excited to keep the camp going next year.

“The students are already asking if we’re going to do it next year,” said Farabee.

Farabee hopes to expand the camp next year to include some elementary school students.

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