"This is both a physical and mental challenge," said Margaret Arteme, fourth grade Kelly Elementary teacher. "We will take the top three winners and they will go onto the next round. The winner's team will receive immunity."
Sound a little like reality TV show "Survivor"? Summer school began for Kelly Elementary last Tuesday as the program took on a "Survivor" theme and classes transformed into tribes.
From the "Think-a-lottas" to the "Learn-a-bunchas," 14 tribes (two for each grade) comprise the summer school program this year, and Kelly Elementary Principal Fara Jones said so far the kids are loving it.
"Our tribal council is a little different (than the TV show)," Jones said. "Instead of kicking someone off, we're emphasizing being a team and being honest and caring."
For example, at last week's tribal council, each student's name written on piece of paper was put into a vase. The children drew a name and had to write a compliment about that person. Then the students went around the circle and shared what they wrote about their person.
"The kids loved it," Jones said. "They were smiling so big when we left the council."
Tribal councils take place in a dark classroom decorated to look as though the students are really on an island. The "Survivor" logo is projected on the wall with a "camp fire" burning with (unlit) tiki torches all around and the "Survivor" theme softly playing in the background.
"I like learning about everybody else (in tribal council)," admitted fourth grader Stephanie Kerr, adding she learned one of her classmates had been to the Bahamas.
Third, fourth and fifth grades participate in the 20-minute tribal councils in the morning and tribal competitions in the afternoon on Mondays. On Tuesdays, kindergarten through second grades have their challenges.
"Every week we go to tribal council and do this activity," explained fourth grader Sarah Turley during her tribe's Monday challenge.
Challenge winners receive an immunity idol to hang on their classroom door all week, Jones said.
While there aren't any Johnny Fairplays and Boston Robs as in the real TV show, students will be found demonstrating some of the positive characteristics of fan favorite Rupert.
"They really are excited and can relate to it. It's really something the students get," said Laura Kern, whose fifth grade class chose "The Alphas" as their tribal name because they've been studying ancient Greece.
Students aren't the only ones with "Survivor" fever. Teachers are getting into the theme as well. Rooms are decorated with tiki torches and jungle-like recreations of the Amazon.
For many school districts, summer school is the time to incorporate more enrichment learning.
"It's things we don't have time to do during the regular school year," Jones said.
Summer school lesson plans are focused mainly on math this year, but other lessons are covered in science, social studies, geography and language arts, Jones pointed out.
"A lot of the teachers are spending each week learning about a different place, mostly where 'Survivor' shows took place like Australia, Africa and Pearl Islands," Jones said. "And the students are learning about that with geography, and they're learning about cultures and social studies."
Attendance is also wonderful this year, Jones noted.
"We had 170 students enrolled in the elementary summer school last year and this year we have 310 students enrolled," Jones said.
Students are coming from other schools like Oran, New Hamburg, St. Denis Catholic School and Chaffee.
"They're really trying to work together, and it's helping build team spirit," Jones said about the students.
So which do the students prefer -- summer school or regular school?
"Hurricane Fever" tribe members Kerr and Turley, said they favor the island of summer school over the regular school year.
Kerr said there's a lot more activities in summer school than in regular school.
And Turley, who's attended summer school in previous years, said this year there was really a theme the students could have fun with.
"Summer school is a lot more fun and shorter," Turley said.
Looks like the tribe has spoken.