ZEBULON — School. On a Saturday? One can almost hear the collective sighs and moans of school-aged children across the county at just the thought of having to roll out of bed on a Saturday morning and truck it to school.
But not at Wakelon Elementary, where approximately 30 third-, fourth- and fifth-graders showed up bright-eyed, smiling, and holding No. 2 pencils in their hand as they received extra help in preparing for the end-of-grade state testing that is just around the corner.
Fifth-grader T.K. Mercaldo was one of them. “Saturday camp was great,” he said enthusiastically. (Principal Thad Sherman said the school called the Saturday sessions “camp” in an attempt to put a positive spin on three hours of extra instruction.)
“We were able to learn different things, like to how to read a text and use it to find the answer to different questions,” said Mercaldo. He added teachers gave incentives to the students who tackled the tasks diligently. “I also enjoyed that the teachers gave little prizes when we were working hard and getting things correct.”
“Saturday camp really helped me a lot, “ said third-grader Lavadous Bolden. “I was able to get a lot of my work correct thanks to my teacher, Mrs. (Christa) Vick.”
Vick said it was not only positive for students, but for teachers as well. Each teacher worked with a group of about five to seven students.
The small groups provided an opportunity to give the one-on-one help the students need, she said. “Students were enthusiastic about coming.”
As a former assistant administrator at Carver Elementary, Sherman saw firsthand how the Saturday sessions helped, so he decided to start them at Wakelon. “A lot of schools do tutoring after school but after the students are here all day, most of the time, they’re ready to leave and they are too tired to stay any longer. Saturday camps are the best use of our time.”
Sherman said his teachers nominated students “who they thought would benefit from a little additional support.” In the past, some schools were able to provide bus service to Saturday school but because of budget restraints, that was not an option. “We had to depend on the parents to get them here. The parents had the choice of taking part in the Saturday camps and, thankfully, the majority of them did.”
“We will not get the scores back until October,” said Sherman. “Hopefully, we will see these efforts have been effective.”