Summer AEP Highlights: “Kids are Acting like Kids Again!”

by Alison Krupnick

Following strict COVID -19 safety protocols, we were thrilled to return to The Bush School campus this summer so that Cohorts 20 and 21 could experience their Academic Enrichment Phase (AEP) in person.  

In addition to academic classes, EPIC awards and exuberant recesses with friends, scholars experienced two science field trips, a day at the University of Washington and classic AEP experiences, including oratory performances and the Moving Up ceremony. 

“There was lots of anxiety prior to the start of summer session,” says Academic Director Mike Montgomery. “Some kids hadn’t even held a pencil for 18 months!”  

By the end of the first week, Montgomery says the kids were doing well and had figured out COVID precautions and how to both play and do their work. Placement Director Dominique Daba joked that more transition points during the day meant more opportunities to lose things. But, she says, there was a marked improvement for some students who had previously studied remotely in terms of homework completion and ability to turn work in on time. 

Cohort 9 alumni Brady Huang, who coached Cohort 20 students for their oratories – two-minute passages memorized from books they found meaningful during their AEP experience — says this summer, a difficult challenge was even more daunting. “Normally, scholars would be assigned dramatic readings during their first summer and one-minute oratories during the school year. This year posed extra challenges, with the stresses of the global pandemic, necessary mask requirements in and out of class, and the fact that unlike in years past, this summer was this cohort’s first encounter with the assignment of an oratory.  Despite all these challenges and the very short three weeks we had to prepare, they delivered.  

“Every year that I coach oratories, I’m simultaneously unsurprised and impressed with just how well my students perform. When a scholar’s voice rings loud and clear throughout the courtyard and they perform beautifully, I can’t help but smile and think to myself, ‘Wow, a fifth-grader just did that.’ The applause at the end of every scholar’s oratory is loud and well-deserved.” 

“When a scholar’s voice rings loud and clear throughout the courtyard and they perform beautifully, I can’t help but smile and think to myself, ‘Wow, a fifth-grader just did that.'”

Brady huang, cohort 9 alumni

Cohort 14’s Jade Robinson was Rainier Scholars’ Marketing and Communications summer intern. She helped with guided virtual campus tours and had the opportunity to return to campus on the final day of AEP. 

“I was fortunate to attend Cohort 21’s Moving Up ceremony and although it looked much different this year due to Covid 19, the same spunky energy and eagerness to learn that I remember lingered in the air,” she says. “My visit sparked memories of deep conversations in Mr. Little’s Humanities class, along with Mrs. Huff’s “Good morning, Rainier Scholars!” chant. 

“As I get ready to embark on my senior year of high school, I realize that much of what I learned during my 14 months of AEP is still extremely relevant including – always have some sort of planner, be prepared, and always ask questions no matter what. As a BIPOC student at a predominantly white high school, I know how easy it is to lose your voice, but Rainier Scholars taught me that I have a right to higher education. I have a right to use my voice, be heard, and have my thoughts and feelings acknowledged.  

“Though this year has been full of challenges, one thing has stayed the same; the utter support, community, and opportunities that Rainier Scholars has provided for me, for those before me, and for the scholars of the future.”