by Carol Brydolf and Kristi Garrett, staff writers
Busloads of students from around the state joined state education, business and legislative leaders at the state Capitol June 20 for the kickoff of the Summer Matters campaign to boost summer learning.
“We’re gonna rock with summer learning this year,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson told the crowd of students assembled in front of the North steps of the Capitol, ready for the fun, literacy-themed activities to take place throughout Capitol Park after the rally.
A former teacher, coach and legislator, Torlakson is chair of the Summer Matters campaign, now in its third year. He noted that students can lose up to two months of learning without reinforcement during the summer. (See more of his comments about summer learning in this video.)
Summer programs give kids the opportunity to learn to work on projects with other kids and “to pursue something they are really interested in,” Torlakson said, telling the assembled students: “This is an important day and important week,” because the Legislature has “put education as a top priority” in this year’s budget.
Besides Torlakson, Assembly Members Susan A. Bonilla and Sharon Quirk-Silva, Sacramento City USD Superintendent Jonathan Raymond and others, the speakers included Summer Matters business partner Sean Marx, CEO of Give Something Back, which distributed school supplies to the students at the rally.
“As a California employer that is engaged in supporting vital education initiatives, we know that learning happens year-round and that high quality summer learning programs play an essential role in strengthening students’ academic success and overall health and well-being,” said Marx.
Among the crowd was Scott McKinney, a Sacramento high school student who will be participating in a local legislative internship program called Summer at City Hall. This fall he will be a junior at The Met, a Sacramento City USD charter that focuses on giving students hands-on experience working in diverse organizations from bakeries to the Legislature. He likes summer programs, he said, because “I know from personal experience that during the summer, I forget material I had learned during the year. … I get new experiences and develop new skills.”
McKinney said he expects to learn more about public relations and advocacy during the program, which required him to apply with a cover letter and resume just like a regular job. “They treat us like adults,” he added.
Some of the younger students in attendance are participating in a “Summer of Service,” including Kevin Hill, entering eighth grade at Albert Einstein Middle School in Sacramento. “I’m happy to be in summer school, because I get to learn stuff. We play basketball,” said Hill. “We’ll be doing a big project. We have to choose a project that will help our environment.”