Wyatt Wilkerson, Jeff Hickman, Pristine White, George Kraft, and Thomas Stater pass Jaime Miller through the “spider web.” Photo by Hugh McMillan

Rya Diede, Key Peninsula Middle School seventh grade teacher, in facilitating her students’ preparations for the WASL (Washington Assessment of Student Learning tests), chose Camp Seymour’s Challenge Discovery Program.

The WASL requires students to write persuasively and to know letter-writing format. “We began our first writing assignment of the year brainstorming what needed to be in a letter written to a business requesting sponsorship, and prepared letters for various businesses and individuals,” Diede said.

The effort paid off, as several businesses and organizations sponsored the seventh graders to attend the Seymour program. The kids attended on a Saturday so they did not miss class time.

Some of the real meaning of what the kids gained from the Seymour experience is apparent in the words of student Eli Hughes. “I learned to trust my classmates and that they trust me. I didn’t make it across the river the first time and I thought they would all laugh, but they didn’t,” she said, referring to one of the activities. “They helped me do it until I was able. I like that. It made me feel good. My class and I went there because we can know each other better and become closer.”

On returning from Camp Seymour, students participated in a Socratic Seminar to explore what they learned about human relationships. They prepared a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation for their business sponsors, and set a table to serve their guests. “I beamed with pride,” said Diede, “when one of my students said, ‘May I interest you in a cup of coffee, sir?’”

Student greeters met guests in the school lobby, helped them sign in, then led them to the room where others checked coats. Each business representative received a Cougar Pride pin and a certificate signed by the class.

“I am proud our class got the opportunity to do something like that,” said Haylie Miller. “We made some mistakes but even more good things…We should do it again.”