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Summer at SI means new friends, great teachers and fun programs


Summer school students at SI can sign up for photography and learn how to develop the old school way -- using film and working in a dark room. Click here to sign up or to learn more about SI's Summer School and Summer Programs.

Forget the bucolic image of barefoot kids spending their summers having fun doing nothing. Most parents know that children with little to do over the summers feel bored and turn to the TV or computer instead of the nearby fishing hole.

Barbara Talavan, director of SI’s Summer School and Summer Programs, has shown parents and students that the best way to spend June and July is at the Sunset District campus making new friends, having fun and learning in a stress-free environment.

For years, parents have raved over SI’s summer programs. “What a great experience Tommy came away with this summer,” wrote one parent. “SI’s program motivated him and inspired him. We saw excitement each day that he came home.”

Another parent gushed that “from the first day to the last, Dylan enjoyed going to school. Thank you for a great experience!”

One mother noted that while her child wasn’t excited at first about the idea of spending summer in a classroom, “when she first tried it, she loved it. She enjoyed her SI experience.”

Talavan, a veteran SI Spanish teacher and administrator who came to SI in 1985, first joined the summer programs administrative team in 1999 as assistant director, steadily increasing the number and variety of classes and camps for students from first through 12th grades.

“Students love summers at SI,” said Talavan. “Many parents tell me that their children can’t wait to return. They meet new friends from more than 100 grammar schools all around the Bay Area and even from overseas. We have had several students from China who attended our camp while living with relatives,” said Talavan.

Grade school students used to regimented programs and sitting in one classroom all day, discover a new freedom and independence at SI, where they quickly learn to find their way to a variety of classrooms on their own. “Although we do have proctors everywhere keeping an eye on them, students are expected to move from class to class independently. For many, this is a wonderful transition to high school.”

Talavan and her staff of 38 classroom teachers and more than 45 coaches, along with assistant directors Nora Miller, Anne Seppi and Rob Marcaletti ’96, last year served 550 rising seventh and eighth graders, 125 ninth graders, 200 current SI students and hundreds of rising first- through ninth-graders who come for week-long morning and afternoon camps. This coming summer, rising sixth graders will also be able to take part in the middle school academic program.

Middle school students typically take math and two additional elective classes that reinforce lessons learned the previous year, prepare students for the upcoming school year and go beyond traditional classroom curriculum.

Math classes include a range of algebra and geometry offerings along with courses not typically taught during the school year, such as Introduction to Advanced Math Topics (including a section on code-breaking).

English offerings include Know Your Novel, Words Win (focusing on vocabulary), English Basics, Creative Writing, Great Writers and Asian American Literature to be taught this summer for the first time by SI faculty member Ray Orque ’03.

Students can also select a wide variety of other courses such as Forensic Science, Photography, CheMystery (a lab-based course where students do daily experiments), Marine Biology and Hollywood History (where veteran social science teacher Julius Yap ’74 has students compare historical movies to what really happened).

Yap also teaches Lay Down the Law, where he has students examine historic Supreme Court decisions, such as Brown v. The Board of Education and the Dred Scott Case. Other electives include Fun Physics, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Chess, Multimedia, Geography and Natural Disasters.

Ninth graders can take math, English for Success, debate or presentations, sixth graders will take Human Anatomy in addition to one English and one math class, and all students have the option of staying at SI for a variety of afternoon programs and sports camps. This summer, Jackie Lee ’03, who went to the Beijing Olympics as part of the U.S. Table Tennis Team, will lead a table tennis camp, and Mick Terrizzi ’04, featured in the San Francisco Chronicle for his work leading a grammar school drumline, will repeat his offering at SI.

Students can also sign up for a variety of afternoon sport camps, including basketball, softball, baseball, diving, football, soccer, tennis, volleyball, golf, track and field, field hockey, crew, cross country, boys and girls lacrosse. Early rising ninth graders can also choose to take Training to be a High School Athlete, headed by Tony Calvello ’84.

Other camps include studio art, sculpture and 3D studies, painting and drawing, dramatic arts, musical theatre, voice, competitive speech and CPR and first aid. New non-sports campus also include Leadership and Intro to Filmmaking. Most camps run one week, while some are two-weeks long.

“With all we offer, students can be on campus between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. every day for five weeks if they choose,” said Talavan. “And many do.”

Students entering first through sixth grades have the option of five week-long camps that run between 9 a.m. and noon that comprise one day of science, two days of sports, a day of art and a field trip to places such as the Presidio Bowling Center, Crissy Field, the Maritime Museum and the San Francisco Zoo.

Fees can be found online at and include free supervision for students dropped off between 8 and 9 a.m. and a proctored lunch hour from noon to 1 p.m.

SI also offers classes to high school students in chemistry and physics that count for a full year of credit. Rising sophomores can also choose to sign up for World History 2, which offers students a semester’s worth of credit. SI also offers two weeklong workshops in how to write college essays.

Talavan enjoys her job, especially the challenge of creating new classes and camps that match the desires of parents and students. “The assistant director, Nora, thought of the title Fun Physics for a new course, and we called Rosemary Bromann ’95, who worked last summer in our competitive speech class and offered her the chance to teach this new offering. Students loved the class, and we are offering it again.”

Talavan also enjoys working with more than 200 SI students each summer who serve as camp counselors and teaching assistants. “Young students love working with the older SI students, and they provide a great incentive for these grade school children to apply to SI.”

Summer school at SI, she added, “doesn’t mean that kids can’t hike in the woods or enjoy a vacation with their family. They can still do those things. But why wouldn’t a parent want a child in summer school? Students get to make new friends, enjoy fun classes and camps and feel at home on the SI campus.”


Posted by Mr. Paul J. Totah on Tuesday March, 12, 2013 at 04:43PM

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