Extended School Year Program Keeps the Learning Fun


Most children would rather not be in school during the summer. That’s why BOCES’ Extended School Year Program staff work hard to incorporate summer fun into the mix while helping students with special needs retain the hard-earned skills learned during the school year.

Housed at the Pines Bridge and Walden Schools, BOCES’ ESY programs serve students from Walden, Pines Bridge, the Local School Building Programs and The Pines Bridge School at Sunshine.

Woven into each school’s six-week program are special “theme days,” such as Crazy Sock Day, Crazy Hat Day, Sports Apparel Day and Tie Dye Day.

With the program beginning to wind down, Pines Bridge ESY students recently enjoyed Sports Festival Week, featuring stimulating sports-themed activities that were both fun and designed for success. Activities included bowling, where any roll of the ball resulted in earning points, or throwing a ball covered in Velcro at a large, bright target.  Everyone was able to participate, as all activities were modified to meet students’ individual needs.

Sports Festival Week also presented key opportunities for learning. Students who acted as “hosts” had the chance to practice their communication skills, and for those who were able to keep score during games and events, it was a valuable opportunity to reinforce math skills.

“Seeing the smiles and hearing the cheers of students as they participated in the array of activities all week long reminds us all of what our students can achieve and how special they are,” said Pines Bridge ESY Administrator Chris Egan, “Kudos to the Pines Bridge and Transitions staff for their creativity and enthusiasm in bringing our ESY students another wonderful and memorable summer program.”

Over at the Walden School, another big culminating ESY event was taking place this week. Students could be seen enjoying face painting, water balloons, bowling and many other fun games and activities during the school’s Carnival and BBQ. Activities took place next to the school’s balloon-festooned playground.

“The summer gives us a chance to be a bit more flexible,” said Walden ESY Supervisor Marianne Rodriguez, as she watched a student gleefully getting splashed by a water balloon. “We can maintain our students’ IEP goals while providing a fun,summertime atmosphere.”