Little Lunch and Learners lives lifted

PHOTO: A Lunch and Learn class earlier this summer. Photo by ACSGW.

BY BILL BROWN

The summer’s big success story is Lunch and Learn.

The summer day-camp for low-income children and teens taught them math, English, computer skills and swimming. The camp fed them breakfast, lunch and a snack daily. 90 initially registered for the program, but 100 showed up the first day. The extra children were not turned away. Program staff scrambled to accommodate them and more latecomers.

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State Delegate Will Smith poses with Lunch and Learn day camper Jaden Jackson after presenting him with an award for “Most Improved.” Photo by Bill Brown.

110 youth “graduated” Lunch and Learn, which started in early July. The campers, staff, assistants, volunteers, parents, siblings and an impressive number of local politicians were on hand Aug. 5 for the closing Parent’s Night program. It was held at John Nevins Andrews School on Elm Street, Takoma Park.

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Day campers make a show of hands during Parents Night, Aug. 5. Photo by Bill Brown.

The keynote speaker was state senator Jaime Raskin – on his second visit to Lunch and Learn. Earlier in the month he visited a class to teach some Greek myths.

In his speech he reminded them of the myth of Icarus who flew too close to the Sun, melting the wax that held his feathers on and fell into the ocean. Luckily, said the senator, “the lifeguard was on duty that day,” and Icarus was rescued – a detail often left out of the story.

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State senator Jaime Raskin makes keynote speech. Photo by Bill Brown.

Raskin advised the children to aim high, but not too high, as Icarus had done.

“Stay close to the people who love [you] and stay close to your friends and stay close to the community.”


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Lunch and Learn classes were held at John Nevins Andrews School, a private Seventh Day Adventist elementary school. Swimming classes were held a few blocks away at the Piney Branch Elementary School pool. The county-owned pool is administered by the Adventist Community Services of Greater Washington.

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Campers in the Piney Branch Elementary pool. Photo by Ken Flemmer.

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James Thomas’ computer class. Photo by ACSGW.

A number of institutions and individuals created Lunch and Learn. ACSGW was a co-sponsor, along with Montgomery County, the city of Takoma Park, and the MAN-UP mentoring program.

According to MANUP director Terrill North the Lunch and Learn program started in response to the discovery that 80% of the students on free and reduced-price meals did not have adequate nutrition over the summer. North said that Lunch and Learn is one of the largest of the 128 programs in the county.

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Computer instructor Ty Cohen stands by display boards at Parent’s Night showing camper’s class work. Photo by Bill Brown.

Resident Jackie Frazier founded the program three years ago with 60 students. Takoma Park councilmember Jarrett Smith was given credit this year for instigating and enlarging it.

 

Also on hand were Maryland state delegates Will Smith and David Moon, Takoma Park mayor Bruce Williams and council members Terry Seamens, Jarrett Smith, Fred Schultz and Kate Stewart.

ACSGW’s Director Ken Flemmer who introduced senator Raskin reviewed the session, referring to the new red Lunch and Learn t-shirts all the campers, volunteers were wearing.

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Ken Flemmer, ACSGW’s director, shows off the summer camp t-shirt. Photo by Bill Brown.

“These red t-shirts represent many hours that have been spent maintaining reading skills and math skills, . . . learning new skills like what’s really going on inside that computer – and swimming!” he said.

Delegate Will Smith helped hand out the awards, posing with each awardee. Awards were for various achievements, such as “most-improved.”

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The campers sing “We Are the Champions.” Photo by Bill Brown.

Joyce Seamens, director of Piney Branch Pool operations and two swimming instructors presented swimming awards.

The youth performed a song and a play for the parents and distinguished guests.

Throughout the evening there were lots of waves, smiles, hugs and cheers for favorite teachers, staff, assistants and friends.

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Photo by Bill Brown.