Cape summer academy extends learning for students

Program provides continuity for children who need extra support
June 26, 2023

About 700 Cape district students will take part in a summer academic program designed to provide continuity of services, prevent learning regression and offer a bit of fun too.

In years past, the district held summer credit recovery programs for high school students and a camp for children in advanced classes, said Cape Supervisor of Secondary Education Michael Young.

But now, he said, the focus is on accelerating learning, not a remedial program that recaps lessons learned the previous year.

“It really is a preview, and a way for kids to get ready for what’s going to happen next year, so they get a leg up before they go back to school,” he said.

The program begins June 28 for Sussex Consortium students and July 10 for children in elementary and secondary schools. Classes will meet at Cape High, except those for younger Consortium students, who will meet at the Sweetbriar Road location.

Supervisor of Elementary Education Amanda Archambault said 240 kids are enrolled in the elementary-level program. Students are invited to attend based on teacher decision and by tiers.

In a typical classroom, all students receive tier 1 instruction with differentiation, she said. Based on data, performance, observation and assessments, some students are moved into tier 2 instruction, which is fluid and offers targeted instruction.

Students receiving tier 3 instruction are invited to the summer academy. These students don’t qualify for special education, but need a continuity of services to ensure readiness for the next school year. Such students may be multiple-language learners or have 504 plans that detail necessary accommodations.

The focus is on English language arts and math using the same curricula taught during the school year, said Archambault, who places students with teachers they will have in the upcoming year to build connections. 

Students stay with the same teacher, except for physical education class, she said. Recess, game play and arts and crafts time are also built into the schedule.

Board games give children the opportunity to develop executive functioning and social-emotional skills, Archambault said, such as organizing and adapting, taking turns, waiting, losing and recovering.

Young said 60 rising sixth- through ninth-graders are taking part in the middle and high school level academy. As with elementary students, children are invited based on identified support needed and teacher recommendation, he said.

“We try and cast that net as wide as we can just to make sure a student wants to be there,” he said. “There are some kids that have asked to come, so we add them to the list. If a family wants their child to come, we’ll certainly add them to the list.”

The secondary academy will model the middle school/high school schedule, in that students will have different teachers for English language arts/social studies, math and physical education, he said. Students will start the day in homeroom, where they will also have breakfast.

As in the elementary level, students entering ninth grade will be placed with high school teachers so they will have a familiar face when they enter school in the fall.

The Sussex Consortium has always had a 12-month program for students with IEPs and those with disabilities that need summer programming to continue to prevent regression, said Supervisor of Special Programs Eileen Baker. This summer, 400 students are coming to the summer program.

Disabilities that entitle children to 12-month programming include traumatic brain injury, moderate or severe intellectual disability, autism, orthopaedic impairment and deaf/blind, she said. 

Students in the vocational program whose workplaces need help in the summer also participate, she said, as well as any children who have, for instance, recently become potty trained or who are learning to use a new device and need continued support and instruction. 

Kids with special needs will get inclusion time with typical peers, Baker said, noting that fun activities include visits from a magician and representatives from Clear Space Theatre Company.

The Consortium team includes speech therapists, physical therapists, psychologists, nurses, occupational therapists in addition to teachers and paraprofessionals, she said.

Cape Supervisor of Human Resources Ned Gladfelter said about 170 staff members are working in the summer program, not including 12-month employees.

Young said he is thankful to the teachers who have stepped up to work this summer, which is set up like a mini school year. The program requires commitment and extra work for paraprofessionals, custodians, bus drivers and cafeteria staff, he said, as students receive breakfast, lunch and transportation as well.

“It’s work, but it’s work with kids, so that's always great,” he said.

Other summer activities

The Cape Community Bookmobile will be traveling to different neighborhoods with books and meals for children up through fifth grade, Archambault said. Go to for the schedule.

Friends at Milton Elementary has 130 students enrolled in the six-week summer program, and has partnered with the Children’s Beach House, where students will participate in sandcastle contests, ropes course, outdoor games, theater and swimming in the bay. 

The district has partnered once again with Lewes Public Library to offer a summer enrichment reading program for students ages 3 to 5 at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from June 13 to July 27. Bus transportation is available to and from determined stops; a parent or guardian must accompany their child, and additional family members are welcome to ride the bus. All registered families receive a food bag and activity bag that will be provided by the bus each day at the closure of the event. Parents can register at any time at or by calling 302-645-6686.

School officials said free grab-and-go summer meals are available for kids age 18 and younger from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Thursday, from June 28 to Aug. 10 (excluding holidays) at Cape High and Sussex Consortium at Sweetbriar. Breakfast only will be available to pick up at Milton Elementary from June 20 to July 27. Call 302-645-1442 for more information.


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