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ESY program keeps students educated and entertained

PCSD’s Extended School Year program has seen    about 50 students this summer take part in catching up on their studies, as well as having fun with unique and varied events.

The ESY program, which began July 16 and ends Aug. 16, is for students with exceptionalities who are at risk of regressing in their education and are recommended by the school’s Committee of Special Education to attend. Classes are held at Poughkeepsie Middle School.

These exceptionalities can range from students, typically between 1st and 8th grades, being non-verbal to having physical needs. Health aides are on hand to help with medical situations, while behavior intervention specialists provide social emotional lessons.

“Most students have to catch up in the beginning of the year,” ESY coordinator Michelle O’Gara said. “We want to make sure they don’t have to do major catch up.”

O’Gara with fellow ESY coordinators Triesha Foglia-Edwards and Alisa Balestrino make the experience fun with themed weeks about sharks and superheroes, as well as visits from the Poughkeepsie Public Library District’s Bookmobile, local police officers and firefighters.

“It’s summer, you make it a little lighter,” O’Gara said. “We try to make it not like summer school.”


Foglia-Edwards and O’Hara find students are enjoying their time in ESY with some expressing their affection for it in sweet ways.   

“I got hugs, I don’t get that during the school year,” Foglia-Edwards said with a laugh. “They look forward to coming in.” 

On July 25, firefighters from the City of Poughkeepsie Fire Department brought two of their trucks to show     students. Students got to sit up in the cabs,                       : ESY Program students and teachers wave to a member
as well as see some of the equipment up close.                   of the City of Poughkeepsie Fire Department atop the firetruck's ladder.


Nicki, who’s going into 5th grade, enjoyed sitting in the cab and holding some of the tools the firefighters use. 

“My favorite part was when we got inside the firetruck,” she said.

Soon to be 6th grader Cyrus’ favorite part was seeing the firefighters climbing up the ladder to the roof. He also liked one of the truck’s color and shape.

“The firetruck is so big,” he said. “The firetruck is square like Mindcraft.”

The last week of classes will conclude with a carnival day featuring fun activities and ice cream donated from Stewart’s Shops. Foglia-Edwards credited community members for volunteering their time. 

“We’ve had so much great support, not just from our staff who’ve been fantastic, but from the community,” Foglia-Edwards said. “It’s just a lot of really, really nice experiences.”