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Capitol Region Education Council

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Local Children Benefit from Seamless Summer Food Program CREC Locations in Hartford and East Hartford

CREC has partnered with the federally funded Seamless Summer Option (SSO) food program. This free meal service, made available through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), provides nutritious meals at no charge to all children 18 years and under at the following sites

CREC Students Explore Connecticut Ecosystems, Study Insect Species During Summer Biodiversity Camp

When Ariana Patterson, a 17-year-old at CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering, looks at plants, she sees more than just greenery and foliage – she sees small ecosystems with the plants and insects exchanging benefits. As a teaching assistant at Biodiversity Camp at CREC Two Rivers Middle School this year, Ariana shared this perspective with the middle and high school students at the weeklong summer camp.“You have to think of it as a more important piece of the puzzle. You start to look at it as even if it’s small or a little creepy it has some significance that can’t just be brushed off. It makes you want to learn more about it and want to protect it,” said Ariana, who first attended the camp a few years ago as a middle school student at CREC Two Rivers Middle School.Biodiversity Camp, organized by CREC Two Rivers Middle School Science Teacher Edmund Smith and Dr. David Wagner, professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of Connecticut, is a free camp where participants get the opportunity to investigate the biodiversity of local ecosystems and learn how to identify common insects and plants.The camp is geared towards extreme enrichment with students that have already proven themselves energetic, focused and comfortable with extended field studies, said Smith.“This camp is not meant to give students their first experiences in field studies. Several students have chosen college and career paths in the biological sciences following their experiences with the Biodiversity Camp,” he said.Biodiversity Camp took place from June 26th - 30th this year. The camp had 20 high school and middle school students. About half were CREC students, 40 percent came from Hartford Public Schools and the rest were from other districts.Jacob Kuczek, 13, a student at CREC Two Rivers Middle, said he and other camp participants explored the Fenton River near UConn, the Connecticut River and Matianuck Natural Area Preserve.“We explored a bit, everyone in the camp got nets to catch insects. We brushed the nets through the grass and looked to see if we caught anything,” he said.Insects that were caught – milkweed beetles, black fireflies, spiders, moths, among others – were either frozen to be examined under a microscope or kept alive.“The purpose of keeping them alive is to study their behavior, what they eat,” said Jacob.Students attended the camp during the day. On the last night, campers competed in a BioBlitz – a contest to see who could catch and identify the most insects - until midnight and slept at CREC Two Rivers Magnet Middle School. This is the camp’s third summer, with the first and second camps running in 2014 and 2015. In 2016, camp organizers focused on a statewide CT BioBlitz where CREC Two Rivers Middle School set a world record of most organisms identified in a 24-hour period.###The Capitol Region Education Council was established in 1966. Working with and for its member districts, CREC has developed a wide array of cost-effective and high-quality programs and services to meet the educational needs of children and adults in the region. CREC brings nearly five decades of experience in education, regional collaboration, and operations to provide innovative strategies and products that address the changings needs of school districts and their students, corporations, non-profits, and individual professions. CREC regularly serves 36 towns in Greater Hartford, offering more than 120 programs to more than 150,000 students annually. CREC manages more than 35 facilities throughout the area, including 16 interdistrict magnet schools. More information about CREC and CREC’s award-winning schools is available at www.crec.org.

CREC Metropolitan Learning Center Graduate Recognized by World Affairs Council of Connecticut for Social Justice Work

(Hartford, CT) During her freshman year at CREC Metropolitan Learning Center for Global and International Studies, Raena Davis joined a student abolitionist group devoted to bringing awareness to the community about modern-day slavery and human trafficking. It was the beginning of Raena’s commitment to global affairs.“Many of my previous teachers hadn’t talked about human trafficking. Slavery was taught as an antiquated practice that had been abolished,” said Davis, 18, of Hartford. “But human trafficking is prevalent today, not only abroad but in the United States and the state of Connecticut.”By the time she graduated from CREC MLC in June, Raena was leading Student Abolitionists Stopping Slavery (SASS) and was teaching middle school art classes about human trafficking. During school, Raena had the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic to work on a community service project in the municipality of Jarabacoa.Because of her work towards improving the lives of others, Raena is among 12 graduating high school seniors who are being recognized by the World Affairs Council (WAC) with the Global Student Leadership Award. The award is given to students who have demonstrated a high interest in and have gone above and beyond to get involved in global affairs.Raena will attend Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, VT this fall and plans to study Biology with a minor in Spanish. She hopes to continue to engage with global affairs by taking part in study abroad programs, and plans to pursue a career in biological research, personal entrepreneurial enterprises, or journalism. “In my opinion, it’s very important to have a broad cultural awareness when exploring foreign environments. I am also interested in becoming more involved in politics and seeing what changes I can make at the student level as someone who is service-minded,” she said.Raena advises high school students to take advantage of opportunities that allow them to see the world and find where they can make the most positive impact. She is excited to see and interpret the world for herself in the future.###The Capitol Region Education Council was established in 1966. Working with and for its member districts, CREC has developed a wide array of cost-effective and high-quality programs and services to meet the educational needs of children and adults in the region. CREC brings nearly five decades of experience in education, regional collaboration, and operations to provide innovative strategies and products that address the changings needs of school districts and their students, corporations, non-profits, and individual professions. CREC regularly serves 36 towns in Greater Hartford, offering more than 120 programs to more than 150,000 students annually. CREC manages more than 35 facilities throughout the area, including 16 interdistrict magnet schools. More information about CREC and CREC’s award-winning schools is available at www.crec.org.

CREC Students Experience Traditional Summer Camp Through Camp Jewell YMCA Scholarship Program

(Colebrook, CT) Ten-year-old Hartford resident Ezequiel Lopez was annoyed four summers ago when his mom first signed him up for overnight camp at Camp Jewell YMCA in Colebrook.“The first year I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay home and play video games. When I got here, it was pretty cool. They had a farm and a waterfront. I could go swimming,” said Ezequiel, who goes to school in Windsor Locks through the Hartford Region Open Choice program.Ezequiel quickly grew excited about being at camp and was so eager to return the following year that he packed his bag a month in advance. This is his fourth summer at Camp Jewell YMCA and he plans on returning “till I’m a camp counselor.”Ezequiel is among dozens of students in a CREC-managed program or CREC magnet school who are attending the camp free of charge through scholarships offered by Camp Jewell YMCA. CREC received spots this summer for 100 kids, some of which CREC shared with Hartford Public Schools and community organizations.The scholarship program is part of an effort to serve kids from Greater Hartford and to bring diversity to the camp. The initiative started in 2012 after program leaders realized that hardly any of their campers came from Hartford or New Britain.“We are the YMCA of Greater Hartford and we should be serving kids from Greater Hartford,” said Ray Zetye, Executive Director of Camp Jewell YMCA.Ray sees the program benefitting all campers, not just those attending on scholarship. Diversity, he said, exposes kids to different life experiences and prepares them for the years ahead when they interact with people from varying backgrounds.“We’re creating more empathetic adults through this program,” said Ray. “My dream is to have a cabin with a couple of kids from Hartford, three or four kids from the suburbs, a kid from Spain. I want to have religious diversity, all different dimensions of diversity.” Camp Jewell YMCA is set on 540 acres of majestic woodlands right next to a lake. Although kids follow a rigid daily schedule, they choose which activities to participate in. Their options include, horseback riding, theater, pottery, archery, swimming, boating, outdoor cooking, among other traditional camp activities.Ezequiel enthusiastically described playing Zombie Apocalypse, similar to a game of tag where players become zombies when they are touched by other zombies.This is also the fourth summer at camp for Jada Mann, a 12-year-old from CREC Two Rivers Middle School. Jada enjoys candle-making, swimming. She’s taken basketball clinics, and practiced outdoor cooking. Her favorite thing about camp is making friends.Seven-year-old Uriel Vaughn is experiencing his first year here. He is, “Excited because it’s very cool.”“For a lot our kids, it’s their first time being outside of an urban environment or being away from their families. They get to explore a new environment, make friends and learn to be self-sufficient,” said Eric Crawford, director of the CREC Trude Mero Family Resource Center, during a site visit at the camp last week. Crawford and his staff manage the camp scholarships given to CREC. They recruit students to attend and make routine site visits to check up on the kids.The initiative started with approximately 10 students. It’s grown to about 450, with scholarships offered to students through organizations like CREC, Hartford Public Library, International Institute of Connecticut, Legacy Foundation, and Catholic Charities.Approximately 1,300 kids between the ages of 7 and 16 from Greater Hartford to Fairfield County, as well as China, Spain and the Dominican Republic, participate in the residential camp program each year. The program runs four two-week sessions between June and August.###The Capitol Region Education Council was established in 1966. Working with and for its member districts, CREC has developed a wide array of cost-effective and high-quality programs and services to meet the educational needs of children and adults in the region. CREC brings nearly five decades of experience in education, regional collaboration, and operations to provide innovative strategies and products that address the changings needs of school districts and their students, corporations, non-profits, and individual professions. CREC regularly serves 36 towns in Greater Hartford, offering more than 120 programs to more than 150,000 students annually. CREC manages more than 35 facilities throughout the area, including 16 interdistrict magnet schools. More information about CREC and CREC’s award-winning schools is available at www.crec.org.

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Special Events

Even Teachers Need Summer School!

See Workshops

This summer, CREC is holding workshops and institutes for K-12 educators to enhance the capacity to enrich student learning and to improve student outcomes. These workshops will allow educators to deepen their understanding of various topics and help renew their commitment to education.

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