Personal enrichment is a central component of Aim High. Inspiring a love of learning and encouraging exploration is woven into every aspect of our summer program, and nothing demonstrates this more than afternoon activities. After morning classes and lunch, students participate in enrichment activities until the day ends at 3pm. Activities are organized and led by Aim High teachers, TAs, and interns, and they each bring their own interests, backgrounds, and hobbies to the courses offered. Activities vary from campus to campus, ranging from swimming and soccer to scrapbooking, cooking, BMW (Bart, Muni, Walk)—an Aim High favorite—and even Tinikling, a traditional Filipino dance. During afternoon activities, students can step back from their academic classes, try something new, and interact with other students in different grades. Our campus in the Upper Haight at The Urban School has two activities in particular that have stirred up a lot of enthusiasm; Animal Conservation and The Art of the Sandwich. Animal Conservation is led by Perris Yee, a science TA and Aim High graduate. Every Monday and Wednesday, eager students convene in his classroom to learn about invasive and endangered species and how to care for the environment. The most popular project, students agree, is raising hornworms. During our five-week program, Animal Conservation participants are observing the larvae and studying their development. After eventually cocooning, they will emerge as hawk moths. “They promote pollination in flowers,” says Perris, making them an ideal critter to study because of how they demonstrate living things’ effect on the environment. Additionally, Animal Conservation students have visited the San Francisco Zoo and Ocean Beach, and plan to go birdwatching. Another popular activity this summer is The Life of a Sandwich led by math teacher Nate Parish. In this activity, students explore the different elements of the lunchtime delight, visit bakeries and farmer’s markets, and discuss the origins of our food. For their initial project, students pondered their favorite sandwich ingredient. After agreeing on the pickle, they visited the grocery store and chose their own produce to submerge in vinegar. Most students opted for traditional vegetables like peppers and cucumbers to pickle. One student chose raspberries. Nate admitted pickled raspberries was an interesting choice, albeit not the tastiest—and that’s exactly what he intended. “I want students to gain an appreciation for making mistakes and creating something new, in this case a sandwich,” Nate said. For another project, The Art of the Sandwich students were challenged to build paninis using only California-grown ingredients. At the grocery store, students studied the labels of tomatoes, bread, and cheese to ensure they met guidelines. “Students have positive associations with sandwiches, so they’re a good common ground for exploration,” said Nate. At City Arts and Tech High School, our campus in the Excelsior District, students have explored gardening in their afternoon elective called SWAG (Sustainability, Wonder, Agriculture, and Gardening). Beyond gardening, SWAG students learn about different types of plants and how some are better suited for certain climates. They have also built and decorated planter boxes using the seeds they selected during their visit to the San Francisco Seed Library. SWAG teachers Kaitlyn Nelson, Sean Winnik, Elena Allen, and Andrea Almeida created the activity in response to the California drought that has caused food prices to rise. By introducing students to gardening, sustainability, and the importance of eating locally-sourced, SWAG teachers hope their students will continue to grow as environmental stewards. “We try to maintain a focus on edible gardening and individual action,” they said. “The kids are so excited. It’s nice to see this passion in Sustainability, Wonder, Agriculture, and Gardening being fostered in our students, and hopefully it will live on beyond this summer.” Want to see the schedule of a typical day at Aim High? See how our program combines academics, electives, and social and emotional skill building on our website.