Connecticut Governor: Summertime Program at Maritime Aquarium

NORWALK, CT (STL.News) Governor Ned Lamont today visited The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk to highlight an innovative, summertime program being launched at the educational center that will provide expanded access to high-quality enrichment opportunities during the coming months for children whose school experiences have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program in Norwalk is one of 235 statewide that are receiving grants from the State of Connecticut’s COVID-19 recovery funds to support expanded educational opportunities this summer.  The Connecticut State Department of Education used a portion of its funding from the American Rescue Plan Act’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund to provide the grants.  In total, they are anticipated to support expanded educational experiences this summer for more than 96,000 students in Connecticut.

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is using its $244,180 grant to provide a project-based, Next Generation Science Standards-aligned curriculum to K-3 students from Norwalk Public Schools who have been identified to participate in the summer school program as a requirement to advance to the next grade level.  The curriculum will focus on hands-on learning and will reintroduce academic support systems disrupted by the pandemic.  It is expected to serve 53 classes totaling 730 students through in-person activities, including animal encounters, field trips, and classroom experiments.  Norwalk Public Schools is also contributing $1.2 million to support school personnel costs, facilities, transportation, classroom space, supplies, and teacher training.

“Over the course of the pandemic, so many children missed out on classroom experiences that are essential to their development,” Governor Lamont said.  “We targeted a significant portion of our COVID-relief dollars to expand educational opportunities this summer so that young people have more of an opportunity to explore new, enriching experiences that reignite their creative energy.”

Families in Connecticut that are interested in finding high-quality, community-based, and financially-accessible enrichment programs that are available across the state this summer are encouraged to visit summerct.org or call 2-1-1.

“While students have fun reconnecting and socializing with peers, these hands-on, community-based, financially accessible summer enrichment experiences will also promote their accelerated learning, skill-building and exploration of new interests and postsecondary pathways,” Connecticut’s Acting Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker said.  “We look forward to making this a fun and productive summer every day, everywhere for each one of our students.”

“Our ambitious summer school program will give students high-quality learning opportunities through unique experiences with the many animals in our collection, along the shores of the Sound, and from the deck of our floating classroom,” Jason Patlis, president and CEO of The Maritime Aquarium, said.  “In partnering with Norwalk Public Schools and with thanks for the support of the State, we are able to reach all public school students in grades K-3 who need a boost to help overcome the profound challenges of this past year.”

Recipients of the 235 grants were announced in May. Grant application materials were created in collaboration with dozens of key stakeholders across Connecticut – including leaders of summer programs – to enable the Connecticut State Department of Education to identify and support high-quality programs that are able to expand capacity for children of all ages.

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