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Summer Camp gets Canyon Hills Students Ready for Next School Year

Canyon Hills Middle School students returned to their campus Monday for three weeks of engaging activities that also strengthen their math and reading skills.

The 140 students — from incoming sixth graders to eighth graders — joined Canyon Hills teachers this summer for an enrichment program that makes real world connections.

“Our theme throughout throughout this enrichment program is how can we connect our students to the purpose behind learning, the need for mathematics in their everyday life,” Principal Jennifer DeGraaf said. “We are also taking them into our community and showing them highlights of El Paso. A lot of our kids haven’t been to some of these places so we’re excited to be able to take them.”

One recent lesson had students determining how long it takes to burn off calories from menu items at McDonald’s. Just prior to the lesson, students got up and did the Wobble and other line dances to get their blood flowing and burn calories. The students go to different stations throughout the day and each starts with a physical activity.

Canyon HIlls summer camp“It’s important to have that physical activity,” said Jayne Pynes, Cobra New Tech teacher. “If they’re up and moving around that gets their brain going. It gets blood flowing and oxygen going and it gets them in a good mood. And if they’re in a good mood, they’ll be willing to learn and work.”

Angelica Ramos liked learning about burning calories and how recycling benefits the earth.

“It’s a cool program,” she said. “They make it fun for you because they don’t want you to just stay home in the summer.”

Jeremy Holt enjoys the mix of learning and fun during the all-day camp.

“The teachers said it would be fun and it would help us remember more over the summer because most kids lose memory over the summer,” he said. “I didn’t want that to happen to me.”

The lessons also are hands-on – keeping kids off most electronic devices with the exception of iPads for research.061417_Canyon Hills summer camp_357 copy

“We’re only using the iPads to self-direct their learning,” DeGraaf said. “They have the opportunity to take a break from technology – from Snapchat and Facebook. They can do that after hours.”

During the three-week session, the students will take four field trips: Franklin Mountain State Park; the New Mexico Museum of Space History and White Sands National Monument; Wet and Wild Water World; and go to see “Wonder Woman.”

Each field trip has a different educational component. While the trips to the movies and Wet and Wild Water World may not seem educational, DeGraaf assures students will get an important lesson.

061417_Canyon Hills summer camp_169 copy“We’re actually going to take look at what gender stereotyping is,” DeGraaf said. “Before going to the movies, we’re going to talk some of the gender stereotypes that exist in the real world and how the majority of our superheroes are male figures. This movie actually shows students that we can all be superheroes in our own right.”

The recent fake news about a deadly amoeba affecting the water at the park has turned into a lesson for the students.

“They will be interviewing people at Wet and Wild about how it impacted people coming to the park during that period time,” DeGraaf said. “They also will be chemically testing the water and taking a look at what’s missing or are they right on point.”


To see more photos from the Canyon Hills summer camp, visit the EPISD Gallery here.

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