Eastwood Elementary students who worked over the summer to keep their math and reading skills sharp were rewarded with the chance to cover their principal with silly string at the school’s first Spirit Assembly of the year on Sept 9.

Eastwood’s i-Ready Summer Challenge, now in its third year, encourages kindergarten through fifth-graders to make use of the i-Ready web-based program, which requires students to complete interactive reading and math-related tasks aligned to the California Standards. The program is aimed at combatting what educators refer to as “the summer slide.”

According to a report from the National Summer Learning Association, “It’s common for teachers to spend at least a month re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. That month of re-teaching eliminates a month that could have been spent on teaching new information and skills.”

At Eastwood, 182 students logged a grand total of 52,140 minutes practicing their language and math skills, engaging in interactive lessons covering reading comprehension in both literature and informational text, phonics, vocabulary, math operations, algebra and algebraic thinking, measurement, data, and geometry.

The 29 students who logged 500 or more minutes were rewarded this week as they were called forward and handed a can of silly string. Encircling Principal Yvette Cantu, who was dressed in Spiderman-like attire, the students enthusiastically sprayed away, creating a “power web” for her, to the laughter and applause of the entire student body.

NLMUSD School Board Member Chris Pflanzer, parents and teachers also attended the assembly held on the playground just before the first bell.

“We encourage our students to keep their skills sharp, and spending 30 minutes a week using this program helps them do so. And, of course, making the principal look silly is always fun for kids,” Cantu said.

Cantu said the i-Ready online program provides best-practice lessons that are engaging and fun for learners of all levels.

The program also monitors student progress, which can be viewed in the form of lesson reports by teachers who use the data to inform their instruction.

NLMUSD School Board President Jesse Urquidi sees the Summer Challenge and the culminating Spirit Assembly as an example of the District staff’s commitment to high achievement for all students.

“We have a terrific administrative and teaching staff whose creativity and energy in doing what it takes to support student learning never ceases to amaze,” Urquidi said. “That includes getting silly stringed in front of the whole school to incentivize students to practice over the summer.”

District Superintendent Dr. Hasmik Danielian applauded Eastwood’s work to combat the learning loss many children experience during the summer months.

“Eastwood students are to be congratulated for their work to hit the ground running this year, and how fortunate we are to have such a passionate principal willing to get silly-stringed for the cause!” said Danielian.