WEIRTON - Family members of children participating in the Energy Express program in Weirton got to see first-hand some of the skills their children are developing during an open house held Monday.
Energy Express was founded through the West Virginia University Extension Service in 1994 and is available for students entering first through sixth grade as a way to help them retain reading, writing and other skills during their summer breaks from school.
There are 46 students from Hancock County taking part this summer.
STUDENTS PERFORM — Students from the Energy Express program at Weir Middle School perform one of four plays they developed Monday night during an open house event. The students and their mentors based the plays on books they have been reading as part of the program. -- Craig Howell
"Every day, they read a book, they do an art project and they do a writing piece," WVU Extension agent for Hancock County Carole Scheerbaum explained.
Scheerbaum said some theatrical work also is incorporated into the program, with each element designed to show students a different way to bring their reading to life.
During the open house, the students and their mentors performed plays, many of which were inspired by books they have read during the last several weeks of the program.
Energy Express program sites in the area also include Jefferson Primary School in Follansbee and Oak Glen Middle School in New Manchester. Both will have open houses Thursday, with Jefferson Primary from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and Oak Glen Middle from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The students' plays were based on "Big Al," about a large, scary-looking fish's efforts to make friends with the smaller fish, and "The Great Kapok Tree," which taught about the importance of trees for animals and people. A third play, performed by the mentors, was inspired by "My Name is Not Alexander," while a fourth was an original work created by the group.
"They really enjoy it," Scheerbaum said of the students.
Following the performances, families and students were able to visit the various classrooms and see some of the writing and art projects created during the program.
In addition to the WVU Extension, additional funding is provided by the AmeriCorps program. Scheerbaum noted the mentors for Energy Express, many of whom are area college students, also receive professional development opportunities as a result of the program.
Weir Middle School is one of three local sites being used for the Energy Express program.
Other sites are Oak Glen Middle School in New Manchester, and Jefferson Primary School in Follansbee. Both sites will have open houses of their own on Thursday, with Jefferson Primary from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Oak Glen from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Energy Express will complete its program year on Aug. 2.
(Howell can be contacted at email@example.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)