Dozens of students are catching up on their credits by stepping out of the classroom for a hands-on approach to summer school.
ST PAUL, Minn. — On Tuesdays, they go on field trips.
For some people Humboldt High School students, it means seeing how welding works at Valley Fair. For others, it is social studies at the Minneapolis Art Institute. Another group focuses on cooking skills at all square.
“It’s jerk chicken,” mobility manager Onika Goodluck told the group, showing how to make restaurant-quality sandwiches in the All Square kitchen. “Marinated, cooked.”
But it’s not just about food here. The All Square Bursary Program offers people who were previously incarcerated a full-time job at the grilled cheese restaurant.
“You’ve done your time in jail, you should be ‘all right’,” explained development manager Roula Alkatout. “That’s where the All Square name comes from.”
The lessons are not lost on new junior player and basketball player Musa Gregory.
“This whole place is a vibe,” Gregory said. “Like the artwork…and then they have like therapy for people who need it.”
He is one of approximately 130 students enrolled in the Experiential Learning Credit Recovery program at Humboldt. While St. Paul’s public schools offer a variety of summer learning options, this program is a popular choice for its weekly field trips and hands-on experiences.
Summer school director Steve Aeilts says they outnumber about 98% of summer learners.
“Attendance is really good and I think talking with the district, when we started talking in January, we wanted a change of schedule and we wanted to do something different,” Aeilts said. “Most of them dread it when they hear, ‘I have to do summer school.’ We’ve changed that experience this year so she’s not dreading anything. It’s like, ‘I want to come.'”
Teachers say summer courses are not compulsory, but at the same time, students need a certain number of credits to graduate. So, for many, it’s about getting caught up in those credits. For others, it’s about moving forward. Aeilts says some students who are not late still chose to enroll this summer.
Part of the excursion to All Square was to sit down for a grilled cheese lunch at the restaurant before boarding the school bus to Humboldt to make their own grilled cheese sandwiches and hold a cooking competition for the students.
“We’re going to make grilled cheese pizza,” said Cici Vasquez, who is also heading into 11th grade. “I’m trying to figure out what ingredients we need to get it up a bit.”
Also in the classroom, students learn additional business skills, such as running a food truck. From measuring ingredients to determining taxes, the course allows students to earn math credit in algebra. Teachers say many students didn’t get that credit their freshman year because of the pandemic.
“It makes learning fun,” Gregory said. “If we can learn something that we can actually use like in some stuff in school, I feel like a lot of kids, myself included, are like, ‘When are we going to use this in our lives? ?’ This class, these classes that we have over the summer actually show us what we need for our future.”
Program officials say the district covers the cost of excursions and large businesses or corporations are welcome to partner up to help defray expenses for future excursions. They say this would allow them to expand the program to more schools next year.
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