Summer school not what it used to be |

Summer school not what it used to be

by Andy Bourelle

Summer school means being in classroom studying while everyone else is out enjoying the beautiful weather, right?


That isn’t the case for South Tahoe Outreach Education (STORE) middle school students who are able to go hiking, boating, rock climbing and even airplane flying during their summer school sessions.

Since July 15 about 90 STORE students have been at the Lake Tahoe Airport riding in crash/rescue vehicles, flying in airplanes and, in general, getting a week of hands-on experience in aviation.

It’s not all play and no work, however. To earn the right to get the hands-on experience, students must pass a grounds test about aviation, earning their right to go to the airport for a day.

Aviation is only one aspect of the STORE program. With the help of community volunteers, the students also are able to complete the ropes course at South Tahoe High School, go rock climbing at the 90-foot wall at Eagle Lake, ride in the Eldorado County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue boat and more.

STORE, which began in 1992, is designed as an alternative to the traditional summer school program offered by the Lake Tahoe Unified School District, according to Barbara Cloutier, the program coordinator. STORE – which is a four-week, 20-day program – is for students who have not been successful at middle school because they lack self-confidence and find school a negative experience.

The program is designed to help them learn goal setting, teamwork skills and trust, and to realize that it can be fun to learn.

“It basically changes their lives,” Cloutier said. “It teaches them to set goals and follow through with them. It teaches them to believe in themselves.”

In addition to learning from STORE, Cloutier said, the students have a lot of fun. However, they’re not the only ones. The volunteers enjoy helping, too.

“I really enjoy it,” said Bill Kirschner, a retired airline pilot who has been taking the children up for several years. “I enjoy the kids. I enjoy their enthusiasm.”

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