In a fast-paced writing class at Elgin Community College, Jolie Guime of Elgin writes a riveting tale of a young girl faced with hard choices after she experienced tragic losses. Jolie's story is complex in both thought and style as she uses flashbacks and other techniques she learned from the course.
Not bad for a 12-year-old.
No, Jolie didn't skip middle school to get to ECC. She wrote and shared her story during a recent ECC's Kids' College "Writing Academy" course. Author Kathi Baron of Oak Park taught the class that day. Students were given simple prompts and told to write a story. When they finished, Baron introduced the children to a critique circle that invited the rest of the class to chime in with their suggestions and interpretations. "They each have written beautiful pieces," Baron said last week. "They're so young, it's really amazing."
Baron was one of three authors who taught a day of the class recently for 11- to 15-year olds. Each taught the children different writing techniques to improve their skills.
"It's not remedial. ... It's for the kids who love to write," said Joan Arnal, Kids' College organizer.
Kids' College gives children an early insight into college education. More than 450 students learn to explore their interests and talents each year.
Most classes last four days and are packed with entertaining education. Kids' College has provided summer courses for children ages 6 to 15 for the past four years.
The program operates through the Continuing Education group at ECC. Instructors are both certified and noncertified teachers and all have a passion for their work. "Each (teacher) has a special talent they share with the students," Arnal said.
She chooses the class schedule based on research, basic knowledge and obvious ideas. "I try to balance it through their different interests," Arnal said.
No matter what class, each child is encouraged to use their imagination.
The "Writing Academy" was just one of many classes offered to broaden the students' imagination.
Other courses teach children to experience life outside the home. April Anderson teaches the "Kids vs. Wild" class.
"With all the programs, the goal is to get children outdoor education, survival in the wild, and encourage them to have fun and be safe on their own," she said.
The 9- to 13-year-old students learned to make pine tea and outdoor ice cream and found and ate berries and onions.
"It's important for us to change the classes to keep them interested," Arnal said.
Each course is designed to help kids explore their talents, she said. "Our real goal is getting children into college."
She wants the children to experience activities and encourage them to continue their education. "Whether they come to Elgin Community College or not ... it gives them information and a base for their own creative interest," she said.
Arnal said the Continuing Education program is working on making more academies focused on other topics and ideas, such as visual arts.
Additional classes such as "Movie Making," "Fashion Design," "Crime Scene Investigation," "Fossil Hunt" and many more start Monday. Parents can sign their children up for the last week of classes at elgin.edu/kidscollege. Space is limited.