University of Washington gives students flexibility for enrichment

Students in the Summer Stretch Robotics class work on their projects.
Photo Courtesy of RC

The Halbert and Nancy Robinson Center for Young Scholars (RC) at the University of Washington (UW) offers students courses for both school credit and enrichment. The RC also provides Programs for highly capable high school students to kick start college career through and the Transition School/Early Entrance Program and the UW Academy.

The Summer Stretch Program runs from 8:30AM to 2:20PM, 3 days a week for 5 weeks between June and July. Courses offered are for students currently enrolled in grades 7 through 9, with some courses being offered to students who have completed 10th grade. These post-freshman year courses include American Literature, Chemistry, Number Theory, and Precalculus. In addition, some courses offer high school credit if approved by a school counselor or principal.

RAHS sophomore Ayan Hersi decided to take a literature course in the Summer Stretch Program to push herself in reading.

“I took a literature class which was called Postulates: The Unreal Reveals the Real,” said Hersi. “I just wanted to read more during the summer. It wouldn’t be as challenging if I stayed home; I would’ve been in my comfort zone and I wanted to get out of my comfort zone.”

At first Hersi felt anxious about taking an unfamiliar course.

“I didn’t know anything about it,” said Hersi, “and I didn’t know anyone who was doing it so it was kind of nerve wracking.”

That anxiousness was soon alleviated by Hersi’s instructor.

“I had one teacher named Ms. Wendy Mullen,” said Hersi.  “She was really nice; I wasn’t expecting her to be as nice as she was because it was supposed to be a hard class for advanced students. She was a really good teacher. Whenever we did any writing she gave feedback on our work and she was easy to talk to.”

Being that the Summer Stretch Program is completely voluntary, unlike required classes for high school graduation, Hersi’s classmates were engaged in the class material.

“Everybody [in class] was eager to learn and [genuinely] interested in the topic,” said Hersi. “Most of our material we learned at home, but whenever we had activities to do together [my classmates] were really helpful and easy to talk to.”

Hersi also found the prompts from Ms. Mullen engaging.

“I really liked the [assignments] a lot,” said Hersi. “Whenever we had to do essays the teacher gave us really good prompts.”

Hersi found the Summer Stretch experience to be more personal than the classes at RAHS.

“You had more time to get to know other people in your class, and it wasn’t as stressful and I feel like there was more feedback given,” said Hersi. “It was more 1 on 1 so you would know what you need to work on.”

After finishing the course, Hersi found her reading to be more engrossing.

“I feel like I’m more thoughtful when I read now,” said Hersi. “Before I would read stuff just to read, but now I actually think about what the author is trying to say.”

The RC also offers enrichment Programs for younger students such as Summer Challenge; a hands-on educational experience in material not covered in the traditional school curriculum for 5th and 6th graders. The RC also offers a Saturday Program, another enrichment Program for students in Kindergarten to 8th grade.

Alexandra Goodell, the Director of Outreach Programs at the RC manages the Summer and Saturday Programs.

“Primarily, I oversee the staffing, curriculum, and logistics of the summer and Saturday Programs,” said Goodell. “I also am responsible for the development and implementation of our outreach strategic planning.”

Goodell says that students looking to do Summer Stretch should expect an academically focused experience.

“The classes in Summer Stretch are very rigorous and homework is expected,” said Goodell. “It is a pretty intense learning experience.”

Though Summer Stretch classes are relatively challenging, students will find the experience rewarding.

“There is a lot of collaboration in these Programs, which has manifold benefits,” said Goodell. “Also, these Programs offer exposure to topics that students may not get in a regular school contexts – classes such as Number Theory or Philosophy of Science. This kind of intellectual exposure is very stimulating for students.”

Students with passions not covered by the RAHS curriculum may find their hunger for knowledge quenched by the Summer Stretch Program.

“It is an opportunity for students to dive into an area that they may be passionate about that they don’t have the opportunity to pursue in school,” said Goodell.  

For more information about courses and how to apply, visit:

The University Of Washington also offers college courses during the summer as part of their Summer Quarter Program. Non UW students including high school students can attend a quarter of a wide range of classes during the summer. Some of the courses offered are high intensity language course that pack in a full term of material into a few weeks

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