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Summer program seeks to give at-risk kids a boost in Eugene

Monday through Thursday, students in kindergarten through fourth grade arrive at Marist Catholic High School ready to read.

Posted: Aug 1, 2018 4:54 PM
Updated: Aug 2, 2018 2:47 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The Genesis Summer Reading Academy is making a difference in the lives of local children.  

Genesis is a joint collaboration -- a  6-week long summer camp for "at-risk" students in kindergarten through fourth grade. Thirty-seven students were selected from the Springfield Public Schools, Eugene 4J and Bethel school districts to attend the reading camp at Marist Catholic High School.

The students have been identified as McKinney-Vento children. As such, their living arrangements meet the federal definition of homeless.

"We know we've targeted students who are vulnerable students from a socio-economic perspective, and those student are far more vulnerable to falling victim things like the achievement gap and summer slide," said Bill Ferrari, English teacher at Marist Catholic High School.

There is no cost to attend the Genesis Summer Reading Academy. The entire program was funded through community partnerships and donors including Catholic Community Services of Lane County, One Hope, the Eugene Public Library, the Westerman Foundation,  the Miller Foundation and OnPoint Credit Union. Food For Lane County also helps by providing a nutritious breakfast and lunch.

"The reading program at Marist High School is kind of unique because it's set up as a camp, and I just get to come with Food for Lane County and serve the kids, get them ready for the day," said Cassie Galentine, Food For Lane County site supervisor.

The program was designed by the University of Oregon College of Education and is staffed by licensed teachers, teaching fellows and volunteers from Marist.

"We've got very bright students. And the beauty of this program and the collaboration is we flood them with indidivual attention,"  Ferrari added. "If nothing else, we know that we've given students an academic environment for these last six weeks. They'll be able to hit the ground running when school starts."

As part of the summer reading program, students will take a general tour of the University of Oregon. They’ll also visit the law school and the Museum of Natural and Cultural History.

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