For the first time in weeks and equipped with face masks, several elementary students were able to set foot in a physical classroom again for enrichment classes. Beyond the Bell is offering camps for elementary students from June 8 to July 2 at Long Elementary.
“We want to ensure that the students and parents of HCISD know that we are committed to offering world-class programs in the safest, most secure environments possible, ” Director of Advanced Academic Services Myliss Parker said.
Beyond the Bell offers options for students to explore a multitude of topics related to math, science, technology, engineering, and the arts.
“All activities are experiential and aimed at improving skills that enhance academic achievement,” Parker said.
The program is in its third year of implementation and all previous sessions have been held in person throughout the district. However, this year’s COVID-19 situation has forced the program to make several adjustments to how it is run.
“Due to the virus, we were kind of restricted a little bit on what we could do,” Beyond the Bell Coordinator, Jeanne Jimenez said. ” This year we are only hosting Beyond the Bell here at Long Elementary when in previous years we were at different campuses. We are happy to be able to offer a program like this, and this year we do have a lot of extra rules in place to keep everyone safe. Before they walk in, they must complete a survey and everyone has to have their temperature checked. Kids and staff have to wear masks too.”
The new guidelines don’t seem to be having a negative effect on teachers or students; they seem more excited to be able to get out of the house and interact with others even if it is from a distance.
In one class, fourth and fifth grade students stood in front of skillets practicing their culinary arts skills.
“I have come to the cooking class two times so far. We made toast last time and today we are making steak and egg.” Long Elementary fifth-grader Bella Garcia said. “The classes are really fun.”
In the center of the cooking class, stood Sandra Prado, a Pre-K 3 teacher at Wilson elementary demonstrating safe potato-flipping techniques while another teacher walked around the classroom assisting students.
“I chose to teach the cooking class because I want children to learn basic cooking skills,” Prado said. “We teach a little bit of safety and use items that they would probably have at home. I want to teach them to make something for themselves in case they have to.”
All classes are taught by HCISD teachers and Library Media Specialists using three different learning models. Some classes are face-to-face which means students are in a small group setting in an actual classroom. Others are using a hybrid model that has students working in a classroom on designated days and virtually from home on the opposite days. A third group is practicing in a virtual setting and they are working entirely from home utilizing only technology and online platforms.
A fourth-grade teacher from Wilson Elementary, Robin Valle, taught a hybrid art class. As she discussed how to blend colors and modeled the painting strategy, she went back and forth checking on the students present in class and those attending virtually.
“It is going very well,” Valle said. “The kids at home are just as excited as the kids here, and their parents are involved too, and I love that.”
Classes are also open to students who may not attend HCISD but live in the Harlingen Community.
Camps for secondary will be from July 6 – July 16 at Harlingen High school. To register for classes click here.