MPS students recognized for work in 1st virtual enrichment program

As the holiday break came to an end, some Milwaukee Public Schools' students got a rewarding gift Sunday, Jan. 3 for their academic efforts. 

Loved ones proudly surrounded Lanaijah McCaskill and Demarion Grant as the eighth-graders were presented certificates of achievement and a financial reward -- among 15 MPS students recognized for their enthusiasm and exceptional achievements in MPS' first virtual summer enrichment program, which taught 60 first- through eighth-graders at Hartford Avenue University School.

"It built a lot of confidence," said Joyce Peoples, teacher. "The students were able to improve their reading and math scores, and they were excited about the program."

Keeping them on a positive and upward trajectory...

Lanaijah McCaskill

"The program, it was great," McCaskill said. "It makes me feel good because the stage I was at during summer school, I was at the bottom and I went up in the 90%."

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Their efforts did not go unnoticed as students and educators faced the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic on a larger scale. 

"It’s the holidays," said Morgan Conyers, former assistant principal. "We just wanted to let them know we did not forget them and the hard work they put forth this summer. They set the stage for us and got us prepared. They started us on the good foot."

Improvements were seen in grades and attitudes. 

"The tremendous growth we saw from students from 4K to eighth grade was phenomenal," Peoples said.

Demarion Grant

"I do it because I kind of love it, for real," Grant said.

"They did the work, and it’s so amazing to see the students really do want to learn, and they are engaged in learning and have incredible support for their families," said Peoples.

School officials said the financial awards, which were given by the Louvenia Johnson Scholarship Foundation, were a bonus and came about after the students put in their work. They didn’t know about it until they received it. Whether the program is online or in-person during summer 2021, organizers said they hope it continues.