How I spent my summer vacation . . .

Mid-August is typically the time of year to reflect on summer as school is set to resume.

With classes already underway at Belpre City Schools and the rest of the county preparing to start next week, The Marietta Times contacted a random sample of Washington County residents with the question: What did you do this summer?

It was a season of work for Marietta College sophomore Katie Kitchen, 19, who got an internship with Building Bridges to Careers working in the office of civic engagement. What that actually meant was organizing and executing a summer-long teaching project at the Epicenter on Lancaster Street, a facility established less than a year ago to give local residents access to tools, equipment and classes on making things from woodworking projects to digital objects printed in 3D.

“I brought in the Boys & Girls Club to help the kids build skill sets over the summer,” Kitchen said. The program ran for seven weeks and allowed each of more than 70 children ranging in age from elementary to middle school to complete a project over the summer and in the course of it acquiring specific skills.

“We focused on wood shop, technical and flex training, such as arts and sewing. The older kids came out of it with skills at using scroll saw and drills,” she said.

The courses ran the full day on Mondays and Wednesdays, she said, starting in mid-May.

Although Kitchen, a Marietta native, is gathering summer experience in teaching – last year, she was an Americorps volunteer – she hasn’t committed to a profession in education.

“I’m interested in working with children, but I’m still undecided on a major,” she said.

Lauren Copen, who teaches sports medicine and exercise science at the Washington County Career Center, spent her vacation the way many teachers do.

“I did a lot of professional development,” she said.

In mid-July, she took a two-day tour of local businesses organized by Building Bridges to Careers, which gave her some insights into what businesses expect of young people going into the workforce and also allowed her to establish some connections.

“I’m partnering with (fitness advocate) Stacy Houser. She’ll come into the classroom to create a problem scenario that the students will solve,” Copen said.

She also took a course through Ashland University, School Culture Recharged, intended to help educators establish a culture to counteract bullying and school violence.

It wasn’t all work.

“I’m a baseball mom, and we traveled all over the country for tournaments,” she said.

Her boys are 16, 12 and 9, each on a different team. The family also made trips to Connecticut and Massachusetts and put in some beach time in South Carolina, she said.

For the Belpre resident, the summer is rapidly coming to a close.

“We had an open house last (Tuesday) night, and I’ve got another several days to get prepared, be absolutely ready, for the day, Aug. 22,” she said. “As for the summer, it was one of the best ever.”

Incoming Marietta High School senior Maggie Gottfried had college on her mind most of the summer.

Intent on studying biomedical engineering, she attended a weeklong neuroscience camp at the University of Cincinnati and took a human geography class at Marietta College. She also managed to squeeze in a family vacation to Long Island.

Wednesday was her last day of work as a lifeguard at the Devola pool, a job she enjoys but which also helps boost her college fund.

“I’ve always been interested in working with the public,” she said. “It’s a great place to work, I know all the people.”

Memorable moments include a day when a snake was found in the pool, she said. The reptile was safely removed.

“I still need to get a couple of things done, but I’m definitely winding down the summer,” she said.

George Banziger, a retiree in Devola, said Wednesday he just got back from a visit to Nova Scotia. Earlier in the season, Banziger spent time on his usual volunteer activities, which include work on the Devola trail system and with the Unitarian Church in Marietta.

The projects he’s undertaken include co-authoring regular articles on climate change and renewable energy, continuing work on “healing the divide,” a project seeking to establish civil discourse and common ground among differing political philosophies, and setting up a course or institute to address work in retirement.

“I wish we had taken more of a vacation,” Banziger said, adding that he has forebears who were French Canadian and has visited Quebec in previous years. “I really enjoy visiting Canada. The water on the beaches was very cold, but unlike other beaches, you see very few people there.”

“I’ve got the ‘tired’ part of retired down pretty good,” he said.


– Official last day of summer: Sept. 22 (fall equinox)

Classes start:

– Belpre: First day was last Wednesday.

– Fort Frye: Thursday

– Frontier: Tuesday.

– Marietta: Wednesday.

– Warren: Monday.

– Waterford: Wednesday.

– Marietta College: Aug. 27.

– Washington State Community College: Monday.

– Washington County Career Center: Wednesday.