Horizons at Westminster, a six-week program serving low-income students from Hartford, successfully completed its third year of summer programming that included 44 students.
“Because we could not bring the Horizons at Westminster students to Westminster due to the pandemic, we brought Horizons to our students in Hartford,” said Executive Director of Horizons at Westminster Kathleen Devaney.
The program successfully adapted, and the new first-graders and returning second-graders and third-graders participated in synchronous distance learning and enrichment activities with their teachers four mornings a week from June 24 to July 31. To support this learning, Horizons at Westminster delivered a weekly “school-in-a-box” to each Horizons student’s home in Hartford.
“Our attendance was amazing and our teachers were superstars,” said Kathleen.
Numerous members of the Westminster community, including students, alumni, faculty and parents, stepped up to volunteer and help make the program possible. Each week, a crew of volunteers assembled and delivered to students learning tools in the “school-in-a-box” that contained books, puzzles and games, as well as fresh vegetables that volunteers had picked at Gifts of Love Farm and Education Center in Simsbury.
Other volunteers created enrichment activities. Tia McDonald ’23, Annie Brewer ’21, Michelle Wu ’21, Kareum Skovron-Rasheed, Francesca Bradley ’21 and faculty member Susie Bailey produced video readings and music for the Horizons students. And Westminster students Clara Ekholm ’20, Alice Liu ’23, Qifei Min ’23, Jamai Miller ’22, Kristina Oganyan ’22, Ola Szopa ’20, Lawrence Taylor ’23 and Alice Tao ’24 created virtual field trips of their home countries from around the world.
Adding to STEM learning, videos of science experiments on soap and density and much more were prepared by Matt Park ’21, Allie Masthay ’21, and faculty members Susie Bailey, Kate St. Amand and Lee Zalinger.
“The Horizons students had fun, and they were energized,” Horizons Program Director A-men Rasheed said.
Eda Chen ’20 managed volunteer sign-ups, and Eva Pfeiffer ’21, Sydney Schuster ’21 and Claire Taylor ’21 provided technology support to students and their families. Faculty member Caroline Benoit P’23 coordinated volunteer efforts to pick fresh vegetables, and faculty, staff, students and parents sewed masks for the Horizons families and for distribution at Loaves and Fishes in Hartford.
“Horizons at Westminster is about the Hartford students, but it is also about all the incredible work the Westminster community does to make this program run as well as it does,” emphasized Kathleen.