FRONT ROYAL – Warren County has given students a chance to expand their minds during summer vacation with the MORE (My Opportunity for Reinforcement and Enrichment) program at Skyline Middle School.

Zach Logan, one of the MORE program advisers, said the free summer program provides middle school students with a chance to work on the skills they learn in and out of school.

“It’s trying to give students a lot of exposure to activities they might not even know that they enjoy,” Logan said.

He noted the program consists of classroom instruction, and students rotate through different groups with different subject matters, including math and English. After returning from lunch at E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School, the students take part in one of two enrichment activities, one being physical education and the other being an activity that changes from week to week.

Logan said those activities include science experiments, cake baking and coding, which allows the students to learn to code for robotics.

Volunteer Jon Accornero, an IT specialist with Rocket Software, a technology company in Massachusetts, taught the students how to code robotic balls to move around a maze.

“A lot of them thought it was pretty interesting,” Accornero said. “As they progress through and they started actually coding the robots instead of just driving it around, you could start to see a lot of light bulbs go off.”

Accornero said programs like MORE help out the community.

“We like to add value to kids’ lives, and being able to give back some of the stuff I know. Technology and programming are, as they say, 'eating the world,' so there’s so much opportunity for them. If they want to continue with programming as a career, I want to get the kids familiar with it. That was the goal.”

The MORE program traditionally included field trips, but Logan said that they had to be cut this year due to budget constraints.

“The field trips in the program have been a real draw,” he said. “They’ve been something to be proud of. We would take them to different places in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.”

Logan said he hopes they will be added back into the program next year.

Logan said that over 100 students signed up for the MORE program this year, but the attendance varies from week-to-week.

“We’ve had approximately 60 kids a day that have been attending,” he said. “This MORE program has also sort of combined with the traditional summer school, so, in the morning, we also have summer school students with us. Once they’re finished with what is required of them, they are welcome to join us for the afternoon enrichment.”

Logan said that the program has been helpful to the students who take part in it.

“We have seen on some of the surveys people have filled out that parents have noticed a change in their child’s attitude toward school,” he said. “We try and keep students’ skills and knowledge sharp over the summer.”

The MORE program runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday through July 18. The program won’t run the week of July 1.

Contact Donald Lambert at dlambert@nvdaily.com