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CCSD Summer: Inside Out program offers students academic opportunity

Lily Comer had just given a heartfelt, passionate performance for her peers as Rapunzel, the golden-haired, fairy tale prisoner.

Comer, a rising Infinity Middle School sixth-grader, had put a comedic spin on the character as she performed a monologue for the teacher and students in Acting Up, a class offered through the Inside Out summer enrichment program. Comer delivered her performance in the Sky Vista Middle School auditorium on June 17, and received rave reviews from both her teacher and her peers.

“Apparently, I’m good at being dramatic. Playing this character, I could scream as much as a I wanted to,” Comer said with a chuckle, adding that taking this class was an ideal alternative to being idle during the summer months. “It keeps me busy; I’m not just looking at my phone.”

During this year’s Inside Out session, Comer also took classes dedicated to philosophy, film and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). In past years, she enrolled in a similarly diverse roster of courses, all designed to stimulate, educate and keep enthusiasm for learning stoked during the summer months.

“I get to meet new people, I get to learn about things I like learning about, I get to do things I like to do,” Comer said. “Inside Out is an informational camp that’s very, very inclusive. You have all these different classes, you have all these different teachers. It’s never the same each year, and you get to meet people from all over the Cherry Creek School District.”

Comer’s insights neatly summed up the mission of the Inside Out program, which has been running during the summers in CCSD for more than 10 years. According to Nanette Almon, assistant director of the district’s Gifted and Talented Program, Inside Out has always been about offering students a well-rounded, diverse enrichment curriculum that supports learning during the regular school year. The program is available to rising first through eighth-graders from across the district, and it encapsulates the district’s core values of Growth Mindset, Engagement, Relationships and more.

“Students are really engaged in activities they’re passionate about. That’s what makes it such a great program. They have this opportunity to really engage and learn. They have dedicated time to do that,’ Almon said, adding that the Inside Out program drew more than 900 registrations during its two-week run this year. “We have classes that run from STEM to fine arts to yoga. It’s a well-rounded program that allows kids who have a new interest to try it out, and lets kids pursue their passions as well.”

Students in the CCSD Inside Out program at Sky Vista Middle School

In addition to longtime favorite courses dedicated to Minecraft, chess and moviemaking, this year’s roster included new offerings like Music on Screen, Science Fiction Podcasting and Strategy Games and Puzzles.

“We have quite a few new classes this year, which is really exciting,” Almon said. “When kids get dropped off in the morning, they’re running into the school because they’re so excited.”

Sariah Smith, a rising third-grader at Challenge School, found plenty to be excited about in this year’s curriculum, including a yoga class that featured communal practice, meditation time and a tea ceremony. The class stressed mindfulness, focus and movement, and Smith enjoyed every aspect of the experience.

“I love the teacher, she’s really nice. We have tea, we do meditation – it’s just really fun,” Smith said. “My favorite subject is writing – I love to write stories and express myself. It lets me let out my feelings. We were writing stories in ‘Whodunnit,’” she added, speaking about a class that let students solve mysteries. “It was really cool, because we got to write stories, settings and different parts.”

Like many of her peers, Smith had participated in Inside Out in previous years. There was no question about her returning to the program.

“I wanted to come back because I had so much fun at Inside Out last year,” she said.

That kind of enthusiasm is what has always kept Inside Out going, and it’s what so effectively prepares students of all ages for the academic year to come.

- Posted 6/24/22 at 11 AM