Students treated like royalty at summer camp Campers learn history, science

July 29, 1993|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Staff Writer

She's young, cute and full of life. And yesterday, 9-year-old Jaime Wise was crowned a queen. Not for her good looks, but for her knowledge.

Jaime and 12 other children, ages 5 to 11, were crowned kings and queens yesterday afternoon at a ceremony to celebrate the end of their monthlong summer learning camp at the Stevens Forest Apartments in Oakland Mills. While at camp, the young African-American campers studied their culture and history, and learned African phrases, science and mathematics.

"This is the closing activity where they share things they have learned, and graduate from being princes and princesses to kings and queens," said their teacher Sharon Johnson, 35, before yesterday's ceremony.

The boys and girls also were awarded pins and certificates for their accomplishments.

The camp, held this year for the first time, was sponsored by the school system's Black Student Achievement Program (BSAP) to provide opportunities to children whose families cannot afford other camps. The county school system picked up the tab.

Unlike others, this camp went to the children, organizers said. "We wanted to bridge the gap and build relationships between community and schools," said Gloria Washington, a facilitator with BSAP.

To show their support for the camp, some residents took off work yesterday to attend a community picnic following the campers' presentation.

"Aside from being necessary, [the camp is] very productive and positive," said the teacher's assistant, Daniel Burns, 19.

While at camp, the children toured the Smithsonian Institution and Howard University in Washington, D.C., the county library, and the African Museum of Art. They also made jewelry, sang songs and announced their support for each other through daily "affirmations."

Yesterday, all eyes were on them.

With ear-to-ear smiles, they rapped multiplication equations, recited poems, and read entries from their daily journals.

Chris Wilkes led his peers in the song "In The Hall of Fame," which named Katherine Dunham, Malcolm X and other famous African-Americans.

"The children have learned they are walking encyclopedias and have a lot of knowledge in them," their teacher said.

During a break, Jaime, a fourth grader at Pointers Run Elementary School in Clarksville, said she enjoyed the camp and learned a lot about her history, mathematics and her colors.

"They are red, black and green," she said, referring to the colors that symbolize black unity.

Lateasha Harris, 8, looking cool in a kinte cloth short set, said she learned an important message: "I learned my people are special."

The camp helped enlighten Tiffany Morrow, 11, too. "I didn't know 'Lift Every Voice and Sing' was the black national anthem," the Oakland Mills Middle School 6th-grader said.

As Valencia Scott watched her son, Dante Scott, and her nephew, Chris Wilkes, being crowned, she said she was proud of them and happy she enrolled them.

"I'm impressed," Mrs. Scott said. "Everyday I knew they're learning something because they'd come home singing something throughout the house."

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