SEDRO-WOOLLEY — As students prepare to begin another school year with COVID-19 looming over them, school districts have been trying to find as many ways as possible to get back to normal.

For the Sedro-Woolley School District, that has meant bringing back a summer school program that was not held in 2020, though with some tweaks in place.

Before the pandemic, each of the district’s seven elementary schools and its middle school held its own summer school program. This year, the district decided to bring all of the summer school students together at Cascade Middle School.

“We decided we needed to approach it differently,” said Heather Swenson, the district’s summer school principal.

While parents and educators have been concerned about learning loss, many are also concerned with the students’ social and emotional needs.

They believe putting all the students on one campus will help with that, Swenson said.

With about 200 students attending summer school at any given time, it is the largest turnout the district has ever had, she said.

Additionally, the district was able to hire three school counselors to help the children during the summer school program, Swenson said.

“We’ve been seeing a lot of anxiety in kids,” Swenson said. “So it’s been really amazing having them here.”

In one first-grade class, students learned about community and how everyone can contribute in their own way.

“We learned about superheroes other than Captain America,” said Daisy Fornier. “Like police and garbage collectors and firemen.”

In accordance with that theme, firefighters from the Sedro-Woolley Fire Department helped students pick out books in the summer school’s culminating book fair.

Thanks to a grant from the Sedro-Woolley Alumni & Schools Foundation, Swenson was able to buy enough books to allow each student to pick out two books or journals.

“Our goal is for kids to leave here excited for school,” Swenson said.

She said she was told it was the first Scholastic Book Fair held in the United States for the 2021-2022 school year.

Next year, Swenson said she hopes the summer school is bigger and better, with more students attending.

— Reporter Kera Wanielista: 360-416-2141,, Twitter: @Kera_SVH,

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