A college-age Black woman student teaches math to a younger Black woman student by writing equations on a clear sheets of glass.
laurence kesterson
Math was in sharp focus during summer camp for the students of the Chester Children’s Chorus. Taraji Williams (left) gets pointers from her math coach, Kina Nichols ’23.

A New Home on Campus

Just in time for camp this summer, the Chester Children’s Chorus (CCC) moved to a new home on campus.

It’s a stately stone-and-wood building on Harvard Avenue with a red awning. The first floor has a math classroom for younger students and a kitchen where cooking classes are held. On the second, there’s a piano, whiteboards, and a large seating area for rehearsals. Off to the side, there are tables where, after lunch, summer campers enjoyed one-on-one reading opportunities with volunteer adult readers, including Swarthmore staff.

“This is the first time we’ve had our own building on campus. For us, it’s a game-changer,” says Chester Children’s Chorus Managing and Education Director Dana Semos.

The Chester Children’s Chorus has been a part of the College community since its founding by Executive and Artistic Director John Alston H ’15 in 1994. Historically, Alston and Assistant Musical Director Sean Tripline have visited every second-grade classroom in Chester and auditioned every student for the chorus. (This year, they had to stop a few classrooms short due to COVID-19, but offered additional audition opportunities, such as an open house.)

For students who pass the audition, participation in the summer learning program is free, and includes not only music rehearsals, but a plethora of academic and extracurricular opportunities. Classes offered this year included reading, science, cooking, African dance, hip-hop dance, and photography.

“This is the first summer the rising sixth graders are working with a math coach,” says Lead Math Teacher Kevin Downs. “This allows individualized instruction that focuses on the specific needs of the student.”

CCC’s six-week Summer Learning Program had its end-of-the-summer concerts July 22 and 23. Singers performed William Byrd’s “Ave Verum Corpus” and a rock’n’roll set featuring Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock” and Ray Charles’ hard-swinging version of “Let The Good Times Roll.”

“With a lot of effort from some passionate and dedicated staff members, we probably gave the best concert we’ve ever given,” says Alston. “I was the proudest I’ve ever been of the children.”