Warren County’s Young Scholars Institute had another successful year with over 300 students participating over the two-week event.
Directors Jimmy Haley and Carol Neal said they were pleased with the response to the program, which is in its 28th year.
“We had 260 the first week and 300 the second week,” Haley said. “Our first week for fifth grade was 4-H week so we were low on fifth-graders that week, but we had a really strong turnout for the second week.”
The age range includes students going into second grade up to students going into ninth grade.
“That’s the way we’ve always done it,” Haley said. “We divide into five groups and do activities that are age-appropriate and it’s always worked well.”
Haley says he has been involved since the inception.
“I’ve been here the whole time,” Haley said. “I’m the only one that’s been here since the very beginning. It started with Donna Trevathan, she did a little summer camp, an enrichment thing with computers. Then the next year it kind of mushroomed into a summer camp program by invitation only for kids who were recommended by their teachers for enrichment during the summer. It just kind of grew, we started putting things together. We’ve done ‘Renaissance,’ we’ve done ‘Survivor,’ all kinds of activities associated with a theme over the course of the years.
This year’s theme was Fit and Free. Like the name suggests, organizers talked about fitness and freedom of choice and how better lifestyles make for a better person in the short and the long run.
The project for last year was the Park Theatre renovation, but after hearing about the financial situation at the local food bank the group decided to address that issue.
“This year, since we’re doing food and fitness, and we’ve got the new five food group items that Ms. Obama introduced a couple of weeks ago. We thought our project this year would be to raise money for the food bank,” Haley said, noting the kids tried to provide nutritious foods for their donation. “The people who are in need of food need to eat healthy also and make better choices about food so we tried to concentrate on the five food groups.”
The new model uses a plate icon and is called, appropriately, MyPlate, and replaces the nearly 20-year-old food pyramid. The four groups on the plate include fruits, grains, vegetables and protein. Dairy products are in a separate container to the side.
The government, and many nutrition experts, have embraced the new concept and graphics.
“For years, dietary guidelines have encouraged incorporating more fruits and vegetables to create a healthier diet, and MyPlate offers a clear and compelling visual reminder to do just that,” said Del Monte senior nutritionist Sarah Ludmer.
The students even endeavored to arrange the donated foods according to the new guidelines.
The 2011 YSI program ended last week, but Haley says he and Neal, along with the teaching, cafeteria, nursing and office staff volunteers who make it all happen, are already working on next year’s YSI theme.
“It takes several months,” Haley said. “We usually start in January. Next year we’re going to do ‘Down on the Farm,’ as we celebrate our agricultural heritage,” Haley said. “So everything will be going back to our roots of farming, which is a big part of what made America great.”
Neal says she got involved because she feels the program is so beneficial to the students, who not only get to do a variety of physical activities, like visiting Gilley Pool and taking a trek through Cumberland Caverns, but also learn about science and history with field trips to Bridgestone’s BEECH facility and the Sam Davis home in Smyrna to learn about the Civil War.
“I really believe in it,” Neal said. “This is what we do for our students who work hard, behave well and get good grades. It’s become a tradition, and now I can’t even imagine summer without Young Scholars Institute.”