To culminate The Academy’s Summer Enrichment Program, a group of Mercy Home boys recently presented group projects on sustainability at the Boys Campus Competency Fair. Co-workers packed the Board of Regents room as the boys shared knowledge on water waste, food waste, and saving money on ink.
The Academy’s Summer Enrichment Program, held Monday through Thursday, is for our middle-school and high-school adolescents who are too young for internships or summer jobs.
“We want to give them something meaningful to do by having a comprehensive program that is both academically focused, builds character, and exposes them to sports and other activities,” said Director of Academy Resources, Liz Kuhn Tomka. “We want to challenge them to do academic work that will either build their skills or expose them to content that they’ll see in the next grade level.”
Summer Enrichment academics focus on social studies, yet embedded within the curriculum are components that boost reading, language arts, and math skills. Physical education also plays a significant role, with dedicated time for basketball and baseball, plus a morning warm-up routine spearheaded by Vice President of the Academy, Pat Bittorf.
“Our morning mind and body program is how the guys start out the day,” said Tomka. “It gets them focused, focuses their energy, and gives them exposure to various males around the agency who can offer them advice or build a relationship with them.”
Now in its third year, the Competency Fair is the product of a special afternoon class where the boys collaborate on team-based projects. The fair gives them a chance to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they learned over the summer. This concept aligns with the “competency” component of the ARC framework – the basis of Mercy Home’s model of care – which supports the mastery of an array of tasks crucial to our kids’ resiliency as they heal from trauma.
“The idea is that they are learning more in-depth about a specific topic,” said Tomka. “But they’re also learning how to work together, conduct their project, how to research, and put something together.”
To convey this year’s theme of sustainability, the boys utilized Power Point presentations, charts, and posters, along with informative Q-and-A dialogues with Mercy Home co-workers about money-saving efforts to conserve water, food, and ink.
“Americans waste a trillion gallons of water a year,” said Seth. “That’s a lot of money if you figure a gallon of water costs one dollar at Walmart.”
The boys also learned about more sustainable choices they can make in their own lives.
“Don’t just wash one shirt when doing laundry,” said Seth. “That wastes water. Make sure to do a full load.”
Another project outlined a simple way for agencies to save money on ink used on printing documents: change a document’s font to Garamond. The thinner, lighter font drastically reduces the amount of ink required for printing.
“An eight-milliliter ink cartridge costs anywhere from $17 to $72, depending on what you’re buying,” said Sam. “Garamond font can help ink cartridges last longer and save us money.”
Summer Enrichment participants, along with special instructors, were recognized with awards following the group project presentations
“The Competency Fair also functions as a celebration and an opportunity for gratitude for those who were involved in the program,” said Tomka.