BURLINGTON, August 2 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today celebrated the Integrated Arts Academy at H.O. Wheeler in Burlington where roughly 230 children – or “explorers” as the program calls them – from across the city take part in the Summer Opportunities Academics and enRichment (S.O.A.R.) program.
The program aims to help children who perform below grade level and prioritizes admitting students requiring the greatest academic support. It is paid for in part by $43,000 in federal funding secured by Sanders, a member of the Senate education committee. The federal funding allowed the program to go from half-days, four days a week for four weeks, to full days, five days a week for five weeks.
“These kids enjoy coming to school. They are excited about it. All of this is part of a concept called extended education. What this program is about is to make school fun, to make it interesting,” Sanders said at a press conference at the school. “Our young people do much better when they are able to channel their energies into constructive and positive activities. This is the kind of program that works and we need to see more of it.”
Jeanne Collins, superintendent of Burlington schools, said, “I am very appreciative of the help from Senator Sanders to increase the opportunities for our kids most in need. The kids who do not have access to summer enrichment, high-quality stimulating language environments, and continued use of basic academic skills, are the students who show the most benefit from this expanded school year program.”
The S.O.A.R. program at H.O. Wheeler keeps children active, focusing on building mathematics and reading skills for children from kindergarten through the fifth grade. The students work on academic activities in the morning (8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.) followed by related enrichment activities and fieldtrips in the afternoon (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.).
The theme of the S.O.A.R. program this summer is “Explore Vermont” and each student is called an “explorer.” The five weekly themes are “Burlington Blitz,” “The Nature of Burlington,” “Art Around Town,” “Earning a Vermont Living,” and “Vermont History.”
In addition to the activities at H.O. Wheeler, another group of children receive help developing their English language skills in a S.O.A.R. program at Burlington High School.
To view photos from the senator's events with the Burlington "explorers," click here.