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CIS provides area students with a 'funsational' summer

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Going to the beach, bowling and a trip to the movies may not sound educational, but they are for students in the Communities in Schools (CIS) Funsational Summer Program.

Evelyn and John Marlow run the summer program at Jessie Mae Monroe Elementary School and have between 10 and 25 students each week.

While the goal is to help each child reach his or her full educational potential, the Marlows make sure the students have fun every step of the way.

During the week, students keep busy with scheduled activities such as silent and group reading, writing activities, art, physical education and drama. Students have free time to play.

“Their favorite is the Leapfrog,” Evelyn Marlow said. “They learn so much from that.”

Marlow said one student started off the summer not being able to read. His reading ability is now at grade level, Evelyn Marlow said.

“Their progress is so good,” she added.

Playing organized games outside is also something students look forward to daily, but before going outside, students must recite all the playground rules.

“Play nicely.”

“Don’t hurt others’ feelings.”

“No going up the slide the wrong way.”

“Don’t wrestle.”

“No sitting on the monkey bars criss cross applesauce.”

“You might fall and break your head,” 7-year-old Tommy Detorres added.

Outside the school, students go on “study trips,” where they learn from different hands-on activities. At the beach, they learned about ocean life. At the aquarium, they learned about sea animals.

Putt-putt helps students with hand-eye coordination and teaches them how to be good sports.

“The students call it fun, and I make it that way,” Evelyn Marlow said. “I make it a learning experience, but in a fun way.”

Evelyn Marlow is a retired kindergarten teacher, having taught more than 30 years. Her husband John is a retired captain with the sheriff’s office. The two began teaching the summer program and the CIS after-school program at Jessie Mae five years ago.

“To teach a student is to reach a student,” Marlow said. “It makes me sad if they’re sad. This is a fun place they should want to come to.”

The students have fun, and each have a favorite part of the day. Tommy likes silent reading, and his favorite book is The Pagemaster.

“It’s awesome!” he said.

Fifth-grader Joey Carpinello has attended the CIS summer program since first grade and enjoys spending the day with his friends while making new ones.

Walker Soucek, 7, likes when they play games outside, especially kickball and 4-square.

Taylor Barbee, 7, enjoyed when they took a study trip to Caswell Beach.

“I swam underwater and we played tag where we had to try to swim and tag the other person,” she said.

All the students said they enjoy CIS and would come back next year if given the choice.

“We just have a good time in CIS,” Evelyn Marlow said. “I’m so proud of them.”

Kathryn Jacewicz is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or at kjacewicz@brunswickbeacon.com