Week #1: And we’re off!

The first official week of GovsPLUS was a short one due to the 4th of July holiday, but still full of adventure! Students from six different schools and community organizations in Lawrence arrived eager to explore the campus and to finally enjoy classes and afternoon activities and jumped right into a full program on Monday morning. Here’s what a typical day for these ambitious students looks like…


Staff member Ariel Portorreal accompanies students on the long bus ride from Lawrence each day. Once off the bus, the students and all six staff members get together in the Dining Hall for breakfast. (The students love the new addition and how good the food is!) After breakfast, students and staff members walk to the Student Center (where the students will spend most of their time during academic hours and some afternoons) to get right into classes. Staff members Jalina Suggs and Brett Bidstrup join each grade for their problem solving and communications classes then teach an enrichment class of their own! After a quick lunch together, students work with Jalina, Brett, Ariel, and Paola Otero in a variety of afternoon activities (which included icebreakers and basketball this week!) We saw early on with this group that no matter what the activity, GovsPLUS students are engaged, enthusiastic, and excited to learn!


(Kiah and Chloe are loving Step class!)

Day 2 was a slightly different schedule already though… Instead of classes in the morning students headed to the field house for a morning of team building exercises with Dean Of Faculty, Ms. Fitzgerald. Ms. Fitzgerald welcomed the students in the open courts and was ready to bond the group. Students first played games where they had to trust each other and truly listen to make the activity successful. In doing this, students became much more comfortable with each other. This would serve the group well because the next activity was “rock –wall” climbing. Jalina and Brett served as belayers for all of the students who wished to try and climb. Other students were asked to hold ropes and support the belayers if needed. This activity really made each kid trust one another because as they were climbing they needed to know that each member of the belaying team was there for them. The students had a lot of fun and finished the morning by developing the “GovsPLUS Recipe for Success” which includes ideas like “honesty”, “try your best”, and “hydrate”!


(Julian, Christian, and Brett belay a climber)

In week one, students got a good “lay of the land” both in campus orientation and in the structure of each of their classes including the two enrichment courses. They really enjoyed the Step class taught by Jalina. For most of the students this was the first time they tried to step so Jalina simplified the steps and also incorporated the history behind the step dancing culture. Students really enjoyed learning about the background and meaning. It made the step class more than just really loud beats and movement. Students had to wait until Wednesday to get a taste of Brett’s nutrition and fitness class but enjoyed learning the basics of health and wellness after thinking about their own knowledge of “good health” on a self-assessment.

Image(GovsPLUS students love the new dining hall and the food!)

Overall the first week for GovsPLUS was great and the kids really enjoy the program. We are looking forward to an excellent summer together!


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