Caroline Elementary School’s Wilderness Performance Academy Aims For a Second Year of Success


Thanks to a $40,000 grant from the Park Foundation supporting innovation in education, Caroline Elementary will implement an innovative summer camp for a second consecutive year. The camp brings rising 2nd and 3rd grade students together for a three-week intensive acting camp designed to support literacy and inclusion. The effort culminates in an outdoor theatre production created by students. Designed to bring together students of multiple ages with a variety of academic skills, the camp models inclusive practices that give students an opportunity to collaborate on a production.

Mentors of the program build a supportive learning community by designing and distributing an acting kit to the children, hosting an orientation, and connecting with families throughout the summer. Students study poetry, talk about books, study characters and design ways to represent them, perform, and have an opportunity to play outdoors.

Principal Mary Grover expressed, “We are grateful to the Park Foundation and the Ithaca City School District for supporting and acknowledging innovation. Last year’s camp was based on a passion for bringing students together across ages and skill sets for an authentic purpose with an opportunity to share learning with our greater community.” Results of the camp were unprecedented: engagement of both students and caregivers at every milestone was nearly 100% and an overwhelming majority of students maintained or gained reading skills- some by more than a year- over the summer.