Abundant with “pinch me” moments, Summit Academy Community School – Painesville’s January martial arts promotion ceremony filled students with feelings of accomplishment and amazement.
“All students were excited and happy for each other. They supported each other’s success and urged those on that struggled initially,” describes E. Samuel Nieves, Dean of Students /Martial Arts Instructor. “Many were surprised at their success.”
The promotion ceremony, in which the school’s entire K-8 student body participated earlier this month, is part of its signature Therapeutic Martial Arts Program. Principal Kelly Cunningham, who is a credentialed sensei, reestablished the program in 2021-2022 to teach students basic martial arts skills, self-regulation techniques and leadership.
“I have noticed a substantial difference in our students’ ability to communicate their needs, regulate themselves and feel a sense of accomplishment as they make gains in their martial arts abilities,” Cunningham explains.
Sensei “Sam” Nieves took over the program this school year, continuing teachings while adding connections to Summit Academy Community School – Painesville’s Full Value Contract and building-wide PBIS program.
“Students are earning Blue Stars for being positive citizens in the martial arts dojo, their classrooms and the school community,” Cunningham says. She adds that her entire school staff have participated in at least one therapeutic martial arts class with students and she looks forward to continuing the program for years to come.
The ceremonies are among the school’s most highly attended parent engagement events during the school year, Cunningham says. This most recent ceremony stayed true to that tradition.
“Families clapped, cheered and were happy for the success of students. Parents were excited for the children and complimented each other’s children,” describes Nieves, adding that in the same spirit, “Students cheered each other on. Some who struggled initially came back and completed the board-breaking portion.”
In his analogy, Nieves says, “board breaking is like life and its challenges. If you train properly, practice and do not let failures deter you, you can accomplish anything.”