Saturdays are school days for Burr Ridge middle schoolers
Azariya Daniels (from left), Tamia Johnson, volunteer Loren Williams, Shamarie Bell (back turned) and Niko Williams all read books during their Saturday School class. | Michael R. Schmidt ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 11, 2013 10:20AM
BURR RIDGE — It’s Saturday. But Romeo Lott has no problem getting out of bed and heading off to school.
“I come early,” said Romeo, a sixth-grader at Burr Ridge Middle School. He can’t wait for the chance to practice his math skills on the computer and to play games with his classmates.
Romeo is one of more than a dozen fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders who take advantage of Saturday School, held each Saturday morning at Anne M. Jeans Elementary School.
“We average about 16 students,” said Wendy Williams, founder and coordinator of the program.
Since the program began in January it has attracted a consistent number of students who are eager to learn.
“They’re learning, but having fun at it,” said Williams, who starts her students off with breakfast bright and early at 8 a.m.
After breakfast, the students spend time practicing math skills in the computer lab and engaging in games like Apples to Apples and Scrabble Flash. Then, it’s time for one-on-one reading with Saturday School volunteers.
Monika Vysoky, manager of the nearby Walgreen’s store, is one of those volunteers.
“We’re trying to be involved in the community,” Vysoky said.
As she listens to students read Vysoky offers words of encouragement and assistance on difficult words.
“We have staff, parent and student volunteers, and business volunteers, all with the same goal — wanting to help our students be successful academically,” said Julie Bartell, principal at the middle school.
Because students choose for themselves whether to come to Saturday School, it puts them in charge of their own learning, Bartell said. That’s empowering.
“If they come because they want to, they’ll come,” said Williams, health aide at the middle school, who started the program in January.
“We’re off to a really good start,” she said.
Like everyone involved with Saturday School, Williams is a volunteer.
It is her hope, and the hope of administrators, that these Saturday mornings will lead to higher scores when students take their standardized tests next week.
Fifth-grader Shamarie Bell said he is certain that Saturday School is working to make him a better student. And while waking up early on Saturday can be tough for sixth-grader Italy Jordan, she said it’s well worth it.