Blue Valley's Summer Explorations: An enriching experience for students



Over a three-week period each summer, Blue Valley students spend time in classrooms at Harmony Middle School. But they aren’t there to focus on the same school work and activities they would during the school year. 


The kids that fill the classrooms talk excitedly as they spend a few hours each day learning about a topic of interest. Some students file into the Carpenter’s Corner class where they build a birdhouse. Another group of students arrives at Harmony Middle ready to step into the Wizarding World of “Harry Potter” class. A group of sixth to eighth graders prepare to get their hands dirty as they paint while fourth to sixth graders ready themselves to practice their ping pong skills. 


Blue Valley’s Summer Exploration program is a great opportunity for students to explore their passions and hobbies in a classroom setting with peers and a Blue Valley teacher. 


Summer Explorations took place throughout the month of June and were open to students in grades first through eighth. 


“We have fun, hands-on classes but we also have some academic courses here which is nice,” said Casey Petty, an administrator for this year’s Summer Explorations. “There’s a wide variety for families to choose from.”


Summer Explorations serves as an enrichment opportunity for families who want their kids to continue participating in activities during the summer. 


In Carpenter’s Corner, which was divided into two sessions for first through third graders and fourth through sixth graders, students learned how to plan, measure, cut boards and hammer nails. By the end of each week, they completed a birdhouse. 




Second through third-graders in the Future Scientists class, taught by Elizabeth Navickas, focused on various science projects. 


Navickas, a second grade teacher at Cottonwood Point Elementary, created Future Scientists so she could expose students to states of matter. 


“I just like to see their excitement, all the learning and the lightbulbs that go on,” Navickas said. “I hope they get a love for science and that they are able to be more curious about the things around them.”


All instructors are Blue Valley certified teachers and those whose selected class proposals create the course themselves. 




C’Awna Ford-Johnson, an English teacher at Blue Valley Northwest, taught Let’s Pour it Up, an acrylic paint pouring class for sixth through eighth graders. 


Ford-Johnson said the technique is a hobby of hers and one that has become popular in the last few years. 


“I thought it would be something that would catch the students’ attention,” Ford-Johnson said. “They’ve been so inspired already just picking out different color palettes, trying to figure out different ways to manipulate their artwork in the final results.”