ASHLAND – Getting kids excited to go to school in the summer can be a tough sell. 

But students at Ashland City Schools’ Young Authors Workshop had a blast Friday as they approached writing in fun new ways at the district’s Ferguson/Wertman Outdoor Learning Center. 

Located on Mifflin Avenue, the learning center property was donated to the district by Mary Lou Wertman in 2016. A series of recently-completed renovations have transformed the space, inside and out.

The center now features a house with a living room, kitchen, restroom and three small classrooms as well as a playground, outdoor musical instruments, a sandbox, a large yard, a wooded area and a stream.  

Though rainy weather and soggy ground kept the youngsters and their teachers away from the Outdoor Learning Center earlier in the week, students spent the morning there on Friday, the final day of the three-day writing workshop. 

This was the third year for the summer day camp, which is led by Reagan Elementary School first and second grade teacher BreAnn Fennell and staffed with teachers from Edison and Reagan elementary schools and Ashland Public Library.

“What we’re really trying to do is make summer school something that is not a tedious thing,” Fennell said. “We want kids to want to come.”

On Friday, the 60 kindergarten through third graders taking part in the camp rotated through various stations, learning writing strategies through an interdisciplinary approach. Topics included writing through art, writing through math, writing through nature, writing through science, writing about yourself, writing through games and writing through movement.

“I’m giving them experiences that they can write about,” Fennell said. “It’s starting that summer journaling early on so that they can continue throughout the summer.”

At one station, students observed a piece of visual art and then wrote about the work using the prompt, “I wonder about…” Then, they used their imaginations to create their own artwork based on their brainstorming exercise. 

Other stations had kids doing everything from practicing yoga moves to measuring with tape measures and then writing about the activities. 

Fennell hopes the students take away the idea that writing is a fun form of expression and a way to reflect on other things in their lives and in the world around them. 

The district has multiple summer school programs for kids who need extra help as well as those who need enrichment, Fennell said. 

The Education section is brought to you by Ashland Family YMCA.

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