Literacy Camp Graduates 55 at Aug. 9 Ceremony

News Photo 3068
Waco Scottish Rite chair Claude Ervin addresses a crowd of 200 at the graduation ceremony of Camp Success in the Waco Scottish Rite auditorium. Dr. Michaela Ritter looks on.
Aug. 10, 2005

by Judy Long

Camp Success, the language and literacy summer camp sponsored jointly by Baylor University and the Waco Scottish Rite Bodies, graduated 55 students, ages five to 18, Aug. 9 from the 2005 program. A crowd of more than 200 people gathered at the Waco Scottish Rite building to celebrate the successful culmination of the intense summer literacy program.

Waco Scottish Rite chairman Claude Ervin presented certificates of completion to the students and encouraged the graduates to continue exercising their determination to achieve.

"This is not just the completion of the camp. This is a defining moment in your life, something you have to carry forward," he said. Ervin recited an adage while many of the students spoke up to recite along with him: "I can, I can, I know I can; I will, I will, I know I will."

Ervin also recognized community partners for the camp, including Wal-Mart, Shipley Donuts owner Phil Atkins, Dr Pepper, Oak Farms and Blue Bell Creameries.

Dr. Michaela Ritter, director of Camp Success and professor in the department of communication sciences and disorders, said the 2005 camp was a resounding success.

"We have done this for three years, and I always think we can't get any better. But this year the students reached higher levels than before. Everyone progressed, and some of them even increased their reading skills by three years," she said.

"Students and parents are so excited about the improvement the children have made over the past month. Some parents have reported their children are asking them to read books to them for the first time ever," she continued.

Jeannette McKnight, a speech pathology graduate student in the language sciences and disorders department, provided therapy three hours a day, four days a week during the camp. She said the clinicians working in the camp not only taught the children--they had learned from them.

McKnight also told the crowd that the clinicians could not have done their job without Ritter. "She is our best cheerleader. When we got tired, or the day gets long, or we got frustrated or overwhelmed, she reminded us that we could do it. She is such a positive influence."

McKnight also praised the efforts of the Waco Scottish Rite Bodies. "They are filling a huge need because there is no other resource like this in Waco for students with learning disorders," she said.

The Waco Scottish Rite Bodies provided $56,000 to Baylor's Communication Disorders Clinic to operate the 2005 summer program, enabling Camp Success to be provided at no cost to families.

Funds both for the summer program and the clinic operated during the academic year were raised through the annual spring golf tournament hosted by Waco Scottish Rite. Ervin said the organization plans to make a monetary contribution to the program again next year.

Waco Scottish Rite and Baylor's Communication Disorders Clinic in the department of communication sciences and disorders both have a long history of helping children with language disorders and dyslexia.

The national Scottish Rite Bodies has established 163 literacy clinics and special programs for children and therapists located throughout the United States, while Baylor has graduated more than 1,200 speech-language pathologists since 1976. In turn, Baylor students have provided thousands of Central Texas children with treatment of their speech, language and hearing disorders.

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