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Franklin elementary students participate in letter boot camp

Franklin Elementary School’s ABC Boot Camp came to a fantastic end on Friday with an alphabet-based kindergarten fashion show.

The ABC Boot Camp program was introduced a few weeks ago by kindergarten teachers Joi Smith and Candace Gandy in an effort to jump-start alphabet education for their students.

“I found the idea online, and then introduced it to Candace, and she jumped in feet first with me,” Smith said. “It’s a research-based program that we’re piloting this year, and we’re hoping to implement it next year across all of the kindergartens and the elementary center.”

Gandy and Smith had been looking for new programs in order to integrate the alphabet into their lessons sooner, allowing for a quicker grasp on the fundamentals of reading.

“Basically, Boot Camp is a program where we condensed all of our letters and sounds into 26 days,” Gandy said. “The purpose of that was because with our regular reading series right now, we don’t get through all of the alphabet until the end of the school year. So, we thought if we had an initial foundation of the letters in those 26 days, as we went through each letter, they would get stronger, and stronger, and stronger. They can apply this to beginning sounds and reading, and put it all together.”

An average day of Boot Camp provides an immersive environment for the students, with special activities geared to kindergartners.

“During the Boot Camp, we introduce the letter of the day. We start with a sound first, and then get into how we spell with the letter. They come up with different words and different pictures to put on our circle maps, and then they make their own. Every day, we would make a silly hat, so for ‘Z,’ we made a hat with a zipper on it. There’s a letter craft that goes along with each day, and we also focus on letter writing,” Gandy said.

To cap off the program, the kindergarten classes put on an alphabet fashion show, where each student modeled a vest featuring a letter and several pictures of words that represent the letter. The kindergarten letter models got to strut their stuff down the hall with catwalk music setting the mood, and Smith emceeing the show.

“My favorite thing was going out there and showing off,” Ava Angelus, 5, who sported the letter ‘N,’ said. “I had noodles, neon colors on the back, and I put nurse on there, too.”

“I liked going out there and showing two vests,” Josh Buffington, 5, said. “I used an oak tree, the ocean, and Operation is on the back of ‘O.’”

Smith and Gandy both reported that the students loved the program, and they most certainly loved Friday’s fashion show. Having met and exceeded their benchmarks for success, ABC Boot Camp may very well be back next year.

“They really like it, they look forward to it every single day,” Smith said. “Their knowledge has increased tremendously. Our goal is 80 percent mastery of letters and sounds, and we have far exceeded that.”

Franklin Elementary’s kindergarten classes put on an alphabet fashion show on Friday, capping off their new ABC Boot Camp program. Scan this photo with the Prindeo app for a video of the fashion show. BRIAN W. MYSZKOWSKI/TIMES NEWS
Ava Angelus, 5, and Csadie Hewey, 5, participate in the ABC Fashion Show at Franklin Elementary.
Connor Solt, 5, and Gannon Silfies, 5, participate in the ABC Fashion Show at Franklin Elementary.