Summer in the Village dinner honors students, families and community partners

Summer in the Village, a summer enrichment program stemming from Elon’s “It Takes A Village” Project, concluded with an awards banquet for hundreds of students and their families Friday night at Alumni Gym.

Two hundred area students and their parents packed into Alumni Gym Friday to celebrate their success during Elon’s 2019 Summer in the Village program.

​“These young people in the Village, they represent all of our collective future here in the community,” said Elon President Connie Ledoux Book to the room of pre-K to 12th-grade students who were joined by families. “I’m enormously proud of what was accomplished over the last two weeks.”

The two-week Summer in the Village program is part of Elon’s “It Take A Village” project, which operates out of the university’s Center for Access and Success. The program takes a collaborative approach to assist local students in reading, mathematics and other academic areas. Students and their parents meet with Elon students as well as trained community volunteers for tutoring and learning sessions on campus.

Nicole Hester, a rising eighth-grader at Woodlawn Middle School in Mebane, participated in her second Summer in the Village this year. Hester, whose coursework focused on mathematics, admitted she was nervous about first joining the program last summer, but now calls her Summer in the Village experience priceless.

“Words can’t really explain it,” she said. “It’s just a wonderful thing that you can do every day. Instead of spending your summer playing video games every day, we come out here and enjoy math.”

But, math wasn't the only lesson Hester learned this summer.  

Throughout the two-week program, students also focused on a theme of kindness. The theme showed in the kindness quilt one class constructed and the kindness rocks other students painted and hid around campus.

​Kindness also showed through acts of charity. The rising fifth-grade class planned, promoted and opened a lemonade stand on campus. With the help of an anonymous donor, who matched the students’ earnings, the group raised $1,066 for the Boys & Girls Club of Alamance County. Summer in the Village presented the check to the organization at Friday’s dinner.

Participants celebrated the end of the summer program with a dance performance by Village students and parents, as well as awards for students who showed kindness, leadership and success in the classroom throughout the program.

Jean Rattigan-Rohr, vice president for access and success, professor of education and founder of the “It Takes A Village” Project, said Friday’s dinner was an opportunity to celebrate Village students, but to also give a nod to the community for years of support.

“We want to thank the parents who have been here over the past 11 years through thick and thin,” Rattigan-Rohr said.

​The event also served as a "thank you" to the program’s partners: the Oak Foundation, Wells Fargo, Barnes & Noble, Alamance Community College, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, First Presbyterian Church, Alamance-Burlington School System teachers and Elon faculty, staff and students.

Each year since 2008, local students have benefitted from the work of these partners, and Rattigan-Rohr said the dinner was the perfect culmination of another week of success in the Village.

“I just really loved what I saw in classrooms with respect to the level of instruction, the level of involvement from the students and just the sheer joy in community that the children and the teachers and the parents had. It really touches your heart,” she said.

President Book welcomed students and their families to return next year and explained the importance of events like Summer in the Village to Elon and its surrounding communities.

​“Elon University is committed to education because we know how powerful it is in changing the course of someone’s life,” Book said. “With an education, we can be all that we hope to be, and so we’re enormously proud of the Village and what it represents for our future.”

For more information about the “It Takes A Village” Project, click here.