Summit Christian Academy

You Learned What??!!!

Why does Summit Christian Academy have this perfectly-preserved ‘67 Mustang Fastback sitting in the center of a ring of admirers of all ages in its parking lot this morning? The school day has already started. Seems as though this small cluster of students and teachers should be in their classrooms like the others are.

But, wait! Listen! Caleb Ciulla, a first-grader, is calmly addressing his avid audience. His tri-fold display board shows many photos of various ‘67 Mustangs. He has a set of notecards to prompt him through his presentation. Caleb’s speech ends; he takes questions from his audience. He knows his stuff and happily provides the answers. His proud parents and grandparents stand by, ear-to-ear smiles on their faces.

This beautiful mustang belongs to Caleb’s mom, Alicia Ciulla, and Grandpa Ted Lawrence who bought it on Ebay and found it in a very sad condition out in a field. Together, they spent 13 years restoring it to mint condition. By the way, upon driving this classic car to SCA and parking it carefully, Ted drew out a feather duster and completed dusted the car! He raised the hood of the car for display. When Ms. Sara took a closer look, she said that “not a speck of dirt or spot of grease appeared anywhere under the hood, either!” She claims the engine was in “pristine condition.” Inside and out, this mustang is immaculate!

What does any of this have to do with school? Sara Willard’s first and second graders have a unique opportunity to work on a special project once a quarter for what she calls “University Of Learning.” Ms. Sara gives all the instructions at the beginning of the school year. The students can pick a topic of their choice, gather facts and interesting information, attach visual aids such as photos, hand-drawn pictures, and objects to their tri-fold display board. They are to learn as much as they can about their subject and prepare their speech. Toward the end of the quarter, they pick a date and time to present to their class. They speak, introducing their subject, describing interesting facts, and often even demonstrating how something might work or what it does. When they finish their presentation, they do a Q&A.

Rather than giving extra credit, they receive a “graduation gift” of a scientific toy or art supplies or celebration for each quarter. The 3rd quarter gift is Jamba Juice. Those who complete all four quarters of University Of Learning have the extra joy of going out for lunch with Ms. Sara at the Spaghetti Factory. Ms. Sara says, “The big bonus is that they learn about public speaking at an early age and they get the opportunity to direct a part of their learning.”

Their parents also try to make it a point to attend the presentations. They seem to enjoy them and often stay to hear other students’ presentations.

What a fun and fascinating way to engage young people in doing research, learning the art of presenting information in an attractive way, and becoming comfortable with public speaking! These skills will stick with them for their lifetime. What a great idea, Ms. Sara!

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