Enrichment program aims for fun summer learning

Published 8:47 pm Monday, July 22, 2019

When Metropolitan Baptist Church’s Summer Enrichment Program began seven years ago, the goal was to fill the summer with fun, engaging activities for local young people.

The church’s youth pastor of education, Rev. Donald Everett, said the program, which is geared for children ages 6 to 11, has them learning at eight different learning centers in a Christian environment. The program, which is free except for any admission costs for trips, currently has 23 children and eight staff members.

“We’re set up, actually, to enrich the youth beyond when school lets out,” Everett said. “We just keep the education going.”

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On a recent morning, the church was abuzz with young learners working on art projects, computers, spelling, reading, writing in cursive, public speaking and ethics, black history and math. They stay in each section for about 25 minutes before rotating.

Kennedi White, 9, and Christopher Rodgers, 8, were among several children working at the art station just before lunch. White said she enjoyed all of the classes, and said she appreciated learning “how to write uppercase letters in cursive.”

Before lunch, they’ll review what they’ve learned that day, pray together and then have lunch.

“What we don’t want them to do is to forget history and heritage and culture,” Everett said about teaching the students black history. “Here, we set it up to where she’s (Gracie Eure) teaching them different inventors, black history giants, and then they will have a chance to present that.”

The following day, the group was taking the third of four field trips, heading to Nauticus in Norfolk, having already been to Mount Trashmore and the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach. They have another trip planned to the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts.

“All of our trips are geared to educational purposes,” Everett said. “They’re having fun, but they’re learning in the process. When they see this in school, it will trip what they’ve learned and seen, and they’ll be much more familiar with it.”

Current and retired teachers teach the classes, and though the church has recreation, Vacation Bible School and other programs for youth, it didn’t have one geared to the continuous learning cycle until starting the Summer Enrichment Program.

“It fills the gap that we can continue to teach, and it’s been a beautiful program,” Everett said. “We’re really proud of it.”

He also stressed the importance of having the enrichment program in a Christian setting to create a well-rounded education program for the children.

“We want to put the emphasis on God and what He’s doing … so Bible study is a part of this,” Everett said. “They’re learning scriptures, they talk about the Bible — what it means, what scriptures are.”

The program began June 24 and ends Aug. 1 with a closeout event representing all of the learning centers and what everyone has learned over the summer.

“We’re proud of what we’re doing here and what we’re accomplishing,” Everett said.