Warwick secures funding for Antioch University partnership to create summer program

  • The former Warwick Community School campus and adjacent Mount Grace State Park will be the site of a Summer Recreation and Arts Program being created through a partnership between the town and Antioch University of Keene, N.H. Staff File Photo/Dan Little

Staff Writer
Published: 4/16/2021 2:25:56 PM
Modified: 4/16/2021 2:25:51 PM

WARWICK — The Arts Council, Recreation Committee and other town officials have provided the necessary funding to partner with Antioch University of Keene, N.H., to create learning activities for a Summer Recreation and Arts Program geared toward children in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Warwick will work with faculty members and interns at Antioch University to design a curriculum in advance of reopening the town’s elementary school and to develop a place-based summer learning program. The first session of the Summer Recreation and Arts Program will start June 21, and run Monday through Thursday over three weeks.

According to Selectboard member Brian Snell, who will act as the lead on-site teacher, the first session will focus on aquatic environments at the former Warwick Community School campus and adjacent Mount Grace State Park. The second three-week session, also held Monday through Thursday, will start on July 5, and will focus on forest and field environments.

Warwick Arts Council and Warwick Education Committee member Janice Starmer helped apply for a $3,875 grant through the Massachusetts Cultural Council to support the programs. Additionally, the town allocated another $1,200. Speaking in February, Starmer said the money will fund Antioch University’s consulting coordination and planning support. At the end of the summer program, because the grant comes from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, it is required to hold an exhibit showcasing the students’ creative and academic works.

In addition to helping plan the summer programs, the town has entered an agreement with Antioch University to have an intern help the Education Committee develop curriculum for place-based and nature-based learning, specific to the Warwick Community School area, for use in a potential future independent elementary school model. The Pioneer Valley Regional School District School Committee voted in January 2020 to cease use of Warwick Community School, and members of the Warwick Education Committee seek to reopen the building as an independent elementary school.

“This was being planned for quite a while,” said Susan Hollins, a Greenfield School Committee member and former superintendent who has been serving as a consultant for the Education Committee. “Antioch has a specialization in both environmental education and place-based education — both will be themes of Warwick’s elementary school.”

The upcoming summer program is free for children and will run “rain or shine.” At present, lunch and snacks will not be provided. Morning sessions will run from 9 a.m. to noon, and will cater to the younger populations of students in kindergarten through third grade. Afternoon sessions will run from 1 to 4 p.m. and cater to children in grades four through eight. Drop-off will begin at 8:30 a.m., a lunch break will go from noon to 1 p.m. and all children must be picked up by 4:30 p.m.

“Activities will be intensive and involve a lot of field work and walking, so full-day attendance is not recommended, especially for younger children,” Snell said in a press release. “While most activities will involve ‘in the field’ explorations, there will be art and expressive sessions as well.”

Children should dress appropriately for active outside learning and art activities. Restrooms and outdoor sheltered learning areas will be available. All participants must comply with COVID-19 health safety precautions.

Older siblings beyond eighth grade may join pending availability. There may also be space available for older children and adults as volunteers.

Examples of activities include: pond, stream and forest investigations; nature mapping and journaling; nature sketching and photography; plant, animal and insect identification; and nature treasure hunts. There will also be art projects based on participant investigations.

More information about registering will be available in the town newsletter and through the town listserv. Email inquiries for registration can be sent to Brian Snell at hwilliamsnell@town.warwick.ma.us.

Priority enrollment for the summer program will go to children of Warwick residents and children from the former Warwick Community School population, though Snell said the town expects space to be available for students from neighboring towns as well.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.

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