SUMMIT, NJ - Stokes, the annual fall camping weekend for sixth graders at Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School (LCJSMS) reached a major milestone, as the 40th edition of the event recently took place September 20-22.
Stokes is an outdoor education experience, designed to help students from Summit's five elementary schools get to know each other as they all come together for the first time at the middle school. It also provides the students, under the guidance of teachers, adult volunteers and high school student counselors, a chance to share and problem-solve together in an informal, active and fun environment.
To best accommodate this year's sixth grade class and maintain the key elements of this experience, the leaders of Stokes, Dr. Steffany Baptiste-Bosco and Mrs. Stefanie Jurista, created a split-weekend Stokes experience, with one group attending from Friday to Saturday and another attending from Saturday to Sunday. The event was held at Fairview Lake YMCA Camp in Stillwater, New Jersey, a facility on the Appalachian Trail.
The weekend kicked off with students breaking into groups to learn team cheers and names. Groups enjoyed campfires, S'mores, and the famous “Hermit story”, which reminds students that the choice for success lies in their hands. Students also enjoyed quality entertainment provided by High Schoolers, and sing-a-long session with chorus teacher Dan King. Following the campfires, campers settled down in their cabins and spent quality time with new friends.
Saturday afternoon, the entire sixth grade class gathered together to participate in the annual California Sit-Down, in which students formed a large circle by connecting to the person in front of them, creating one large circle and metaphorically one united grade. Weekend festivities continued with tie-dying, GeoCaching and group team-building challenge courses.
Lunchtime on Saturday was particularly special this year at Stokes, as students, faculty, and various members of the community celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the program, which was founded by former Summit educator Bill Schwenk. In honor of the 40th Anniversary, former Stokes veterans came up to celebrate the special day. The party included spectacular decorations, a beautiful cake, a DJ dance party and souvenirs! After the luncheon, students gathered together to take a class picture. The celebration concluded with the singing of the famous Alligator Song led by Mr. Mathew Block, LCJSMS Principal. The family of the late Mr. Mike Ryder, teacher at LCJSMS, attended the anniversary celebration as well, as a way to remember their beloved husband, father, teacher, colleague and friend, who gave so much to the Summit community and the school's students.
The weekend's success was as a result of the enthusiasm from all the sixth grade participants, the 60 energetic high school students, the 40+dedicated LCJSMS faculty members, the Summit Police Department, the Summit First Aid Squad and generous individuals in the Summit Community. It was a weekend to remember.