For the Unified School District of Antigo, summer school has officially begun for elementary-aged students.

The long tradition of “Survivor” started Wednesday for grades K-5.

This summer school program started 20 years ago by Paul and Ann Cornelius at the old River Grove Elementary School. Paul was a lead teacher and spent 35-plus years in education.

The Cornelius’ vision for the program was to show students the importance in working together as a team and how teamwork can be rewarding.

Over the years, the program has been held at various area schools, but for this year, its at the North Elementary School and is anticipated to continue to be the primary location for elementary summer school programs going forward.

Generally, “Survivor’” would last for five days, but due to teachers still working on Monday and Tuesday, they were only able to have a three-day program this year—going from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through today, with breakfast and lunch included.

There are about 41 students taking part in the program this year, compared to 120-150 previous years. The coronavirus pandemic was cited as the cause for the decrease in participation.

Throughout the week, students were involved in a variety of indoor and outdoor games and challenges to score points. The groups consist of six or seven children of all ages, with one older group leader to help the younger ones.

“We try to squeeze in about 30 activities for the kids to play,” said Dawn Walbeck, special education teacher. “Having a variety of challenges for kids of all ages gives them all a chance to find something they can be successful at.”

Some of the challenges are softball toss, Frisbee golf, egg relay, jump rope, flags, rock wall, bowling, water balloon catch, artistic activities and ring toss.

During the last day of “Survivor,” students play a doubleheader kick play tournament followed by a tug of war tournament and the announcement of the top three winners.

Nine-year-old Sawyer Brandt, who’s going into fourth grade, said this is his second year of participating in summer school and the “Survivor” program.

“I like it a lot,. I’s really fun to do all the challenges,” he said. “I’m most excited for the tug of war tournament.”

The other summer school programs start next week, from June 14-17 and 21-24, also with breakfast and lunch included.

The district offered 35-plus programs for students to participate in this summer. Programs rang from the introductions to classes, English and literature, science, tech ed, artistic adventures, career exploration and life studies, athletics and outdoors fun, and a variety of band classes.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Northwoods-Antigo is also offering a program from 3-5:30 p.m. for students go to after summer school.

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