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Sew Fun Camp helps children at Brenner Children's Hospital

The rainbow hues of the fabrics were the signature aesthetic for quilts, pillows, shirts and even cornhole bags on display at Summit School on Friday.

During the last day of the Sew Fun summer camp hosted by Karen Gray of Karen Gray Design, a group of energetic girls welcomed Cindy Caines from Brenner Children's Hospital and proudly displayed the results of their weeklong session.

"These ladies are my A-team," said Gray, referencing her group of advanced seamstresses. "They came in ready to hit the ground running."

Angelina Paparoupas and Poppy Veneziano took a few minutes away from their sewing machines for a quick photo, pointing out the differences in their shirts, one of the group's first projects for the week. Carson Mihalko, Annabella Veneziano and Caroline Ward did the same, joining the rest of the group after the picture sitting for an impromptu dance session. Ann Cooper Cannon and Joanna Holden said they had enjoyed the diversity of projects they completed during the camp.

"I've been sewing for three or four years; I started in the second grade," Holden said. "The quilts were a lot of fun!"

Cannon also has three or four years experience and said she enjoys "making my own things how I want them." She added that the group's big project for the week was her favorite part of the camp.

"I really enjoyed making the pillowcases," Cannon said, referencing the 60+ pillowcases the group of eight girls (including Lilly Zaks, who missed the last day due to an important swim meet) completed for patients at Brenner Children's Hospital. "The shirts were also fun."

Gray said that Charlotte-based Free Spirit Fabrics provided the colorful textiles for the projects. She added that along with sewing skills, the camp reinforced friendships.

"These ladies support each other," Gray said. "They were determined to rise to the occasion and do their best work for Brenner."

Caines said that the pillowcases will be a bright spot for many patients at the hospital.

"When kids have cancer, they sometimes stay in the hospital for two or three weeks and that can be kind of sad," she explained to the group of girls. "When you're in the hospital, you also sometimes don't get a lot of choices, but having something like these pillowcases lets them choose. They'll have it with them while they're in the hospital and then they get to take them home."

Caines also shared her own love of sewing with the girls.

"My mother made all of our clothes when we were growing up," Caines said. "She would buy one pattern and each of the kids had a color, and she would make the same dress in different colors for each sister. We all still sew, and one of my favorite things to do is to go in a fabric store and look at all the fabrics."

Summit Hosts Refugee Camp

From refugee camp to summer camp, 26 children got their first taste of American life in Winston-Salem this week.

Many of the kids — who attended the summer program at Summit School — fled countries where their families were hunted or where they grew up in tents in constant fear.

None of them have been here longer than nine months and most only moved here a month ago from countries halfway around the world, such as Congo, Cambodia, Tanzania and Syria.

"Quite a number came this month straight from refugee camps," said Anne Johnston, the summer camp's director. "Most do not speak English since they come from all over the map."

While the youngsters, ranging in age from 4 years old to 13, speak diverse languages, like Swahili, Thai, Arabic and Tigrinya, they participated in a variety of activities that transcend language barriers.

Activities at the camp included rotating stations of music, art, gym, math and gardening on Summit's campus. Therapy dogs also visited on one of the days.

Mohamedamin, 10, who came from South Africa and Somalia, said his favorite part was the games.

"I like playing basketball and soccer," said Mohamedamin, who moved here a couple weeks ago.

The parents of the children declined use of their last names out of concern for their family's safety.

"They had a hard way of growing up, and for many of them that's the only life they've ever known," said former Summit teacher Ann Guill. "This camp helps ease the trauma and makes them more comfortable and confident before going to school in the fall."

Johnston developed the inaugural summer camp, which began Monday and ends today, after learning that many refugee kids in the area spend summer sitting in their apartments, she said.

She enlisted the help of retired educators from Summit School, where Johnston was a teacher for 35 years, and created the first of what will hopefully be an annual summer camp, she said.

"It's like having superheroes come out of retirement for one last mission," retired Summit teacher Mildred Paden said. "Refugees are part of our city, and this week is just going beautifully."

The camp took place in the midst of Ramadan, a time of fasting for Muslims, which several of the children were participating in. While the kids took part in the fun and educational activities, many of their mothers attended a class at the school hosted by nonprofit Imprints Cares.

Throughout the week, the parents, many in traditional clothes, learned about nutrition, dentists, adjusting to American life and law-enforcement issues.

"I think I've learned more from them about different cultures," said Peter Wilbur, who directed the music program. "It's hard to comprehend where they've come from and the gravity of being a refugee."

School in the U.S. is unlike anything 11-year-old Didumo from Kenya had ever seen, he said.

"In Kenya, they don't have school like this. There's a lot of students and no computer," said Didumo, who has picked up some English in the past several months of living in Winston-Salem. "It's a little bit hard to be born in Kenya where people speak Swahili (not English).

Ali, 10, and his younger brother, Osama, 7, recently moved from Syria. Ali said most things are different, including the language and the food.

"I like the people and the school," said Ali, who has discovered a newfound love for baked potatoes, which he had never seen before. "I love it here."

Winston-Salem Journal, June 23, 2017

Congratulations Susan Schambach: Winner of Douglas Award

The Marian Millaway '69 Douglas Award for Faculty Excellence was established in December 2000 with generous funding from Sandra Adams, Ann and Borden Hanes, and Marian and Jim Douglas in response to the Great Expectations II Capital Campaign for faculty excellence. Any teacher who has taught at Summit for five or more years is eligible for this award. Recipients must demonstrate the following:

• Commitment to the teaching profession

• High Expectations for students

• An ability to connect with students

• Involvement in the total school program

• Energy, excitement and passion for teaching

• Willingness to work with colleagues

• Loyalty to the school

• A desire to go beyond what is expected

Triad science teacher Susan Schambach, this year's recipient, is high energy, creative and works tirelessly to see that every child has success in her class. She designs and implements engaging lessons that help develop the full potential of each of her students.

Susan is well-known as an amazing communicator, tireless collaborator, and gentle encourager. Her passion for Science is rivaled only by her love for her students. She values professional development and eagerly seeks it out. She is the consummate educator, a lifelong learner, and the embodiment of the Portrait of a Summit Teacher.

Fall sports practice for upper school students will begin August 1 for football andAugust 14 for all other sports. Please mark your calendars. Go Eagles!

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