PUBLISHED: 6:02 PM on Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Summer 'math'-letics
JUNEAU - Many students see summer school as something to be avoided if possible. Participants in this summer's geometry camp beg to differ.

Twenty-two Juneau high school students chose to spend three weeks of their summer in intensive geometry class. Classes met daily from 9am - 1pm, and some students wanted even more.

photos courtesy of Tommy Thompson
  Twenty-two Juneau students participated in this summer's geometry camp.
"Some kids would come at 7:30 in the morning and stay till two," said Tommy Thompson, who taught the program.

The summer geometry camp covered all the state content standards for geometry. Students who successfully complete the program - and all of this year's participants did - are prepared to go on to advanced algebra and trigonometry the next year and can be on track to take calculus their senior year.

"There are a lot of strong and hardworking kids who for whatever reason don't do algebra in middle school," Thompson said. "There hasn't been a way before (this program started) for them to get calculus by senior year."

The program was initially funded by the University of Alaska Southeast, where math professors were very supportive of preparing students earlier. This year the school district funded the program.

Teachers recommended bright students with good attitudes for the program, and interested students then submitted transcripts and applications.

"For a freshman to go through all these steps to take this class, it's admirable," Thompson said.

Students receive a half credit for the class, but only after completing advanced algebra.

"It doesn't get you through math sooner," Thompson said. "It encourages them to take more math."

Most summer school programs offered by the district are remedial. Thompson believes the success of the geometry camp offers a new way of looking at the possibilities of summer school.

"This is a different foray into looking at offering kids (summer) classes that aren't recovery, but exploration and expansion," Thompson said.

The following students completed the summer geometry camp and will take advanced algebra and trigonometry in the fall:

Min Bae, Lena Bahn, Brittany Baxter, Kristine Bernaldo, Aubrey Briscoe, Alex Brown, Zachary Bursell, Caitlin Chalmers, Darcy DeRego, Bryan Foss, Tiffany Foss, Arturo Gonzales, Brandon Lumbab, Jesse Majoros, Bailey McWhorter, Nani Ostrom, Maya Parish, Elve Ramirez, Courtney Reeves, Blaine Roeber, Elanor Watts and Paul Wisner.

Thompson also expressed his appreciation for the behind-the-scenes work of Pam Tippets.