Summer Learn and Grow



Students inspecting the quality of plant leaves.

A variety of plants flourish as summer comes around with sunshine and warmth. Sometimes summer comes around so quickly, it’s unrecognizable, similar to the Summer Learn and Grow program that’s been a bit incognito to the students at the Round Lake High School.

The Summer Learn and Grow Program works with the University of Illinois to provide a branch of educational programs to all residents of Illinois. Students in the after school club give back to the community, learn about gardening and cooking. They also learn more about media by making videos advertising their club and posting the club’s activities on Facebook . Meeting at the Calvary Presbyterian church on Thursdays, the program still seeks and welcomes members.

“The goal of the Summer Learn and Grow program is to be sort of a bridge for students entering high school from eighth grade, and also provides older high school students and opportunity to become leaders in their community” said Mrs. Mary Cate Pelser, who is now head of the program. Pelser also teaches US government and sociology honors, as well as serves as student council adviser. According to Pelser, the long-term goal of the educational program includes “getting nutrient rich foods into the hands of families in need. We hope that in the future, the produce from the garden will supply the food pantry at Calvary.”

The program has many benefits that can be useful for students in the long run, such as gardening. “We work with master gardeners to grow fresh produce through the summer and fall,” said Pelser. Students involved in the Summer Learn Grow program also learn about proper nutrition.”We work with a Snap Ed educator to learn culinary skills and how to make healthy food choices,” Pelser explained. Lastly, members create and analyze media messages in order to educate people about the food the program grows and eats.

Students involved in the program last year see a lot of benefits to joining. “The club has taught me how to be a good team worker and teach me how to carry my own weight in the group,as well as teach me skills in leadership” said Olaf Garcia, a junior at RLHS and fellow member of the club.

Although the program takes place at Calvary Presbyterian Church, it is not a religious program and is open to everyone. “Even though we are low in numbers, we are able to step out of our comfort zones and participate,” said  Garcia. In addition to giving students a chance to building leadership skills, Pelser also mentioned the program makes connections with local leaders that opens more opportunities. “ One student was offered an internship at the State Representatives  Sam Yingling’s office after he visited the program,” she said. “Colleges will love to see students involved in their communities,”

Although it may seem like a shrub hidden among a forest of towering trees, this club is there and all the while it provides members with hugely beneficial opportunities for all that are involved. Members in the group are now planning for crops that will be grown for the summer. Anyone interested can still join meeting on Thursday at the Presbyterian Church. The summer program will begin on June 12th and run Mondays – Thursdays from 12:30-3:30. The program will last for six weeks.