Summer School

Polk County Itemizer-Observer
by Emily Mentzer
July 9, 2014


MONMOUTH — It may feel like a ghost town on Western Oregon University’s campus during the lazy days of summer, but don’t be fooled.

Plenty is going on, including many students hitting the books — and hitting them hard.

Kylen Dix walked with her classmates during the June 14 commencement ceremonies, but still had Spanish classes to wrap up.

Photo of campus with people
Lori and Dashiell Brown enjoy a picnic of humus, pita bread, blueberries, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while listening to a free concert on the afternoon of July 2 outside of Western Oregon University’s Werner University Center. Dashiell, 5, and his mom come out to the free concert every week. Some weeks, they try some of the free dessert, provided by WOU’s Housing and Dining department. Photo by Emily Mentzer.

“I’ve taken a summer term every year,” Dix said, adding that she could not have graduated in four years without it, especially because she changed her major.

The nine-week term is like three classes packed into one.

“It’s insane,” Dix said. “We had a test on the third day. It’s pretty intense, but it’s fun because there’s only seven of us (in class).”

Classmate Ian Lusby, a criminal justice junior, agreed.

“I like the accelerated part,” he said.

Some classes are offered online during the summer, too.

David Lapham, 45, a fifth-year senior in education, is working on his first summer term online. It’s also his first online course.

“It’s overwhelming because it’s something new,” he said. “You know, the older you get, the newer things are a bigger challenge.”

Danielle Ambrose of the WOU Registrar’s Office said some students can complete their degree in four years without summer term, depending on the degree and the student.

“It really comes down to the student,” she said. “Whether they’re taking the high end (of allowed units) or the low end.”

Student housing is offered during the summer. This summer, 20 students have taken advantage of that.

Even with the very few students on campus, other things are happening if you know where to look.

“Campus is quite lively with various youth sports camps, leadership groups, and adult groups for training and other workshops,” said Tina Fuchs, director of student housing and dining. “We also house high school students from local high schools who are participating in our summer Upward Bound program for six weeks.”

In addition, campus tours are available all summer long, filled with students and their families considering spending the next few years in Monmouth at Western.

SOAR programs, Western Oregon’s Summer Orientation, Advising and Registration for admitted freshmen, go on four times during the summer.

Jayson Edwards, 18, of Salem was filling out a questionnaire in front of the Werner University Center on June 27 as part of the SOAR program.

He said it was love at first sight with WOU.

“It had a homey kind of feeling, comforting,” Edwards said. “Everyone’s really ready to help everybody.”

He said after his first visit to campus, there was no other searching for the right college.

Edwards plans to major in business, with a minor in music.

“I already know how to play music, but I know business is just as important,” he said. “It’s a tough world, with a lot of persuasive people.”

Another highlight of the activities at summertime WOU is the Summer Heatwave Concert Series, every Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. through July 30. With music, lunch for sale, and free desserts, it draws quite a crowd.

Dashiell Brown, 5, and his mom Lori Brown sat in the shade and listened to Jackson Michelson on July 2 while enjoying a picnic lunch.

“We’ve been to both of them this year,” Lori Brown said.

“And I finished my peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Dashiell added. Next week, his sister can come along, but she was in camp this week.

They load up their bike and trailer and picnic throughout the summer at Western on the lawn, sometimes meeting friends.

Dashiell and his mom were having a discussion about why so many folks were wearing red, and must have figured they root for the Wolves.

“I’m the biggest Beavers’ fan,” Dashiell said. “I also like the Seattle Seahawks.”

“Who do we not root for?” Lori asked.

“The Ducks,” Dashiell responded without hesitation.

Lori said she is grateful WOU puts on such a great weekly summer event for the community.

“It’s so nice that they do this,” she said. “It’s much appreciated.”

For more information about the many summer events and opportunities at Western this summer: and check the calendar of events.


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