Nearly 900 children returned to schools in Boston and Cambridge this fall with a boost from the award-winning academic enrichment provided by the Summer Urban Program (SUP) at Harvard’s Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA).SUP, which is run by Harvard undergraduates and hosts 11 free summer camps in Boston and Cambridge, received the National Summer Learning Association’s 2011 Excellence in Summer Learning Award last month. The national organization supports summertime learning and rigorously assesses programs each year.Research has established that children lose academic skills during summer breaks, and low-income students are disproportionately at risk. Education experts point to summertime programs such as PBHA’s as a way to help bridge the gap.“PBHA’s SUP fits into a broader context. It’s helping Boston close achievement gaps by closing opportunity gaps in the summer,” said Christopher Smith, executive director of Boston After School & Beyond, a public-private partnership that supports, strengthens, and expands Boston’s after-school sector.Smith noted that the camps make a difference for the hundreds of students they serve and the often-underserved populations they benefit, including students from international backgrounds and those who speak English as a second language (ESL), who can struggle at school.The camps offer seven-week programs for children ages 6 to 12. Campers work on academics, including math and literacy skills, in the mornings and attend field trips, including visits to colleges, museums, historic sites, and the New England Aquarium, during the afternoons.PBHA’s summer learning data points to progress. According to SUP evaluations, 85 percent of ESL campers have improved scores after attending the camps. Nearly 80 percent of parents reported improvements in their children’s reading, writing, and math skills over the summer. Ninety-eight percent of junior counselors (children can spend years in a program, first as campers and later as paid junior counselors) plan to attend college.The camps are led by about 130 college students. Some are Harvard undergraduates and others are local students, most of whom participated in the program as campers and stayed on to teach or help run the camps. PBHA program directors say creating a sense of community at each camp and encouraging youngsters to be agents of change in their communities are important parts of SUP. This is why SUP offers opportunities for campers to come back as junior counselors, senior counselors, and even program directors (where they also earn a summer stipend). Harvard students and local college students work together to build that strong sense of community. “Students regularly worked 12- to 16-hour days during the program to make sure the next day’s session was as enriching and fun as possible. … The level of collaboration among students in planning the program is remarkable,” said Sarah Pitcock, senior director of program quality at the National Summer Learning Association.The program was also lauded for collaborating with other programs and being part of the communities they serve.“PBHA is building communities in three levels — among the students they serve, among their staff, and at the city level, with us and other partners. They serve as a satellite summer school for Boston,” said Smith.As for the students who plan and run the camps, being recognized among the nation’s top summer learning programs is an honor, but they say the recognition goes to all involved.“This award is such a big honor, but we couldn’t do what we do without the community organizations, parents, and children we work so closely with over the summer,” said SUP program director Diana Bartenstein ’12. “There’s a lot of energy in the program, and all involved are really committed to it, and that makes the difference.”SUP began in 1980 and runs day camps in the following neighborhoods. It partners with local schools and organizations to host the programs:Dorchester: the Boston Refugee Youth Enrichment at the Marshall Elementary School and the Franklin I-O Summer Program at Frederick Pilot Middle SchoolChinatown: the Chinatown Adventure at the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent AssociationCambridge: the Cambridge Youth Enrichment Program at the Benjamin Banneker Charter School, Fletcher-Maynard Academy, and King Open SchoolSouth End: Keylatch Summer Program at Blackstone Elementary SchoolMission Hill: the Mission Hill Summer Program at Wentworth Institute of TechnologyJamaica Plain: the Native American Youth Enrichment Program at the Curley K-8 SchoolRoxbury: the Roxbury Youth Initiative at Hennigan Elementary SchoolSouth Boston: the South Boston Outreach Summer at Condon Elementary SchoolIn addition to the camps, the program provides ESL training for immigrant and refugee teens. PBHA’s Boston Refugee Youth Enrichment and Refugee Youth Summer Enrichment have been recognized by the Boston Public Schools as alternatives to summer school. Its Native American Youth Enrichment Program is the only summer camp specifically for urban Native American youth in Massachusetts.SUP receives support from a number of Harvard groups, including the President’s Office, Harvard Public Affairs & Communications, the Harvard Achievement Support Initiative, the Office of Career Services, and the Institute of Politics. The program is also supported by many community partners and citywide by the Boston Public Schools, the Cambridge Public Schools, the Boston Youth Fund, Action for Boston Community Development, the Boston Center for Youth and Families, and the Cambridge Mayor’s Youth Fund.Each year, the National Summer Learning Association recognizes summer programs that demonstrate excellence in accelerating academic achievement and promoting healthy development for young people. The PBHA program was the only entirely college student-run program among the five recognized this year.
Male Athlete of the Year — Frank Kaminsky, junior forward, basketballEntering the 2013-14 men’s basketball season, questions about who would be able to solidify Wisconsin’s front court lingered after losing three starting forwards to graduation. Frank Kaminsky quickly put any doubts to bed in a season that displayed a meteoric rise from bench player to anchor of a Final Four team.Just four games into the regular season, the Kohl Center was already filled with chants of “Frank the Tank” as the junior forward broke UW’s single-game scoring record — a record that stood for more than 40 years — scoring 43 points against North Dakota.By the time Wisconsin entered its Big Ten schedule, Kaminsky had established himself as a force in the paint with the ability to stretch defenses with his perimeter shooting.The 7-footer burst onto the national stage with a NCAA Tournament campaign where he averaged 18.5 points and six rebounds per game. Kaminsky’s 28 point, 11 rebound performance in Wisconsin’s Elite Eight win over Arizona clinched the Most Outstanding Player award for the NCAA Tournament West Regional.Kaminsky would finish his first-team All-Big Ten season leading the team in points (13.9) and rebounds (6.3) per game.-Spencer SmithFemale Athlete of the Year — Lauren Carlini, freshman setter, volleyballBefore she even stepped onto the UW Field House volleyball court, freshman setter Lauren Carlini carried the weight of the University of Wisconsin volleyball program squarely on her shoulders.The No. 1-ranked recruit in the nation and 2012 Gatorade National Player of the Year was projected to start as Badgers’ setter immediately, but she surpassed sky-high expectations by leading a feisty Wisconsin offense and averaging 11.15 assists per set, good for third overall in the Big Ten conference.After Wisconsin failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament for six consecutive seasons, Carlini guided the team to its first national title match since 2000. She distributed 12.55 assists in six tournament games, including 50 total assists in a victory against the tournament’s top seed in Texas in the Final Four match. Carlini earned 2013 regional MVP honors for her tournament performance in addition to 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the Year.Carlini developed as a dynamic playmaker on the court in a variety of ways. She used her athletic 6-foot-2 frame not only to set up opportunities for her teammates, but also to scramble for digs and put away balls with powerful strikes or acrobatic tips.-Lee GordonHonorable Mention: Alex Rigsby, women’s hockey; Michelle Mueller, softballCoach of the Year — Kelly Sheffield, VolleyballAfter a lackluster 2012 season for the Wisconsin volleyball team, it seemed like the right time for Wisconsin to move in another coaching direction.Hired to replace former head coach Pete Waite, Kelly Sheffield inherited a young team without high expectations for its first year in the ultra-competitive Big Ten volleyball conference. Still, success seemed just a few years away for Sheffield who had a proven track record at Dayton, where he compiled a 131-33 record over 5 years. Especially because UW had also managed to poach the No. 1 high school recruit in Lauren Carlini prior to Sheffield’s arrival.Still, nobody expected him to turn things around this quickly.Given little more than a summer to get his team prepared, Sheffield was often characterized as a coach that expected perfection from his players. In his first week of practice, he set a precedent that would last throughout the season: Mistakes would be punished with extra cardio.A stark contrast from the previous coach, it worked wonders for an undersized, unathletic team, helping them finish the regular season ranked No. 13 nationally, before continuing on a NCAA tournament run that captivated the University of Wisconsin campus.Although Sheffield and co. suffered heartbreak in the National Championship, the team will lose only one senior and is expected to be right back in the title conversation next year with Sheffield at the helm.–Nick DanielsHonorable Mention: Bo Ryan, men’s basketballMoment of the Year — Bo Ryan cutting down the net in AnaheimIt was 13 seasons in the making when Wisconsin men’s basketball coach Bo Ryan finally got his chance to cut down the nets with Wisconsin after an Elite Eight win in the NCAA Tournament.Coach Ryan had gone to every Final Four with his dad, Butch, since his days back at UW-Platteville. Butch passed away in the summer of 2013. On what would have been his dad’s 90th birthday, Bo Ryan led his Wisconsin team to an overtime win over No. 1 seed Arizona in the West Regional Final to send the Badgers to the Final Four for the first time in his tenure with UW.When the game was over, anticipation built in the wake of victory as player after player, staff member after staff member, climbed the ladder in the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. cutting a piece of netting from the rim to signify their accomplishment. Finally it was the head coach’s turn. Chants of “Bo! Bo! Bo!” began to fill the arena as Wisconsin fans eagerly waited for their coach to cut the final piece of netting down.Ryan sheered the final string and hoisted the net in victory. After he had made his way back down the ladder, the Wisconsin players put the ultimate exclamation point on the moment when they lifted their coach in the air. Grasping his freshly cut net, Ryan lifted his fist in the air while his face showed what the moment meant. The coach from Chester, Penn. had done it. A wide smile filled his face as he sat on the shoulders of his team.-Spencer SmithHonorable mention: Wisconsin volleyball advancing to NCAA Championship after defeating Texas, NCAA SemifinalGame of the Year — Wisconsin vs. Arizona, men’s basketball, Elite EightThe Badger Herald game of the year didn’t have much for competition. It was the most recent, most riveting game and kept this campus alive through another elongated winter. It also vaulted Frank Kaminsky to a popularity level once thought impossible – that’ll happen when you score 28 points and grab 11 rebounds en route to claiming a spot in the final four.Wisconsin and Arizona balanced each other for most of the game on opposite ends of the see-saw. Arizona led first, then Wisconsin. Arizona again, then Wisconsin. In the end, regulation just wasn’t enough to settle the West Region.And while the Badgers were in control for much of the extra period, they were never out of harms reach until the final buzzer sounded. Nick Johnson took one dribble too many and failed to get a shot off before his season officially ended.Kaminsky was the leading horse for the Badgers down the stretch, but was joined in double figures by Traevon Jackson, who also contributed five assists, two of them in overtime.The win sent the Badgers to Dallas and the Final Four, the first of Ryan’s coaching career. It also sent thousands of Badgers back home to enjoy it on State Street.-Sean ZakHonorable Mention: Wisconsin vs. Texas, volleyball, NCAA SemifinalsPlay of the Year — Mark Zengerle OT winner vs. Ohio State, men’s hockey, Big Ten Tournament Championship game In his four years at Wisconsin, Mark Zengerle made a name for himself as a playmaker, but his label didn’t hold him back when his team needed a pivotal score.Ohio State was the underdog heading into the Big Ten Tournament Championship game March 22, but over halfway through the third period Wisconsin was up against the odds.The Buckeyes possessed a 4-2 lead with only six minutes and 52 seconds left in the game. But then, in the blink of an eye, the senior class for Wisconsin answered the bell and brought the Badgers even; just 48 seconds later they set the stage for the heroics of Zengerle.More than seven minutes ticked off the clocked after Wisconsin had tied the game at four, sending the game to a sudden death overtime. In the overtime, with margin for error even slimmer – especially for OSU who was trying to secure an NCAA bid – neither team made a critical mistake for over seven minutes.But then Zengerle, the opportunist, released a shot in the offensive zone from the top of the slot. It looked harmless at first and didn’t even reach they Buckeyes’ goaltender Christian Frey. A pile of players in front of Frey fumbled for the puck, but none of them could come away with it. However, behind the scrum, Zengerle slipped to the left side of the net and secured possession, fired a wrister and somehow trickled the puck past Frey as the celebration ensued with Zengerle sliding in exhilaration across the ice.It was only the 37th goal of his career against his 125 assists, but he couldn’t have saved his last collegiate goal for a better time.-Dan Corcoran