West Orange students benefit from summer enrichment program

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — A record number of 503 students in grades two through eight enjoyed three weeks of academic and fine arts classes during the annual West Orange summer enrichment program, held at West Orange High School from June 27 through July 22.

The program is run by fine arts supervisor Lou Quagliato, St. Cloud music teacher Scott Tomlin, WOHS nurse Denise Makri-Werzen, and paraprofessionals Max Jean-Baptiste and Kenson Felix. The remaining staff of 26 taught the courses, along with high school volunteers to assist.

Courses are offered in preparatory, grades 2-3, and secondary, grades 4-8, divisions in a wide array of art, music, theater, dance, science, math, coding and even English-as-a-second-language classes.

Tomlin, who has helped run the program for seven years and has taught in-district since 1995, was pleased with how the program went.

“Enrichment has been around for many years, probably going back to the 1980s. We added coding and a book club course this year, and saw our largest attendance ever with 503 students,” Tomlin said. “The program is very popular. It provides real-world applications for students.”

Makri-Werzen, who helps with all medical and related administrative issues, said, “We’re very well-organized this year and the parents are very happy.”

Jean-Baptiste handles busing and transportation for the ESL students. He is trilingual, speaking English, Haitian Creole and Spanish. He, along with Felix, work as backups in the nursing office, from where the enrichment program runs.

“More than half the parents with ESL students don’t speak any English at all,” Jean-Baptiste said. “The younger the children are when starting in the district, the easier it is for them to learn a new language.”

During the program, art students were working on pottery, paintings and crafts; music for general and advanced classes were in full force; and computer, science and technology classes were designing projects and working on slideshows. In the auditorium, the preparatory division students were performing dance routines for an enthusiastic audience of parents and students.

“We use our high school volunteers to help students with directions for the first week,” Tomlin said, “but after that they know where they’re going and get there without a problem.”

With 19 days of programming, the last week of Enrichment is used to showcase what students have learned and exhibition performances are held in the auditorium for music, dance and theater students. Each division prepares a slideshow as well. On the last day, the faculty performs for parents and students, wrapping up another successful year.

“Summer enrichment is a vital program for our district and all of us working together makes it a success,” Werzen concluded.

Photos Courtesy of WOSD