MHS summer camp taught independent living for 3 days

Posted on Jun 06 2022


The “Make it Count!” Summer Camp attendees and counselors are seen in front of the J Building of the Marianas High School campus with the cars they washed during their carwash fundraising last Saturday. ZThey are joined by first lady Diann Torres, left, and her children. (LEIGH GASES)

The Marianas High School Special Education Program hosted its first ever summer camp at the MHS campus building J101 and J108, with capers being exposed to three-days of living experiences.

Called “Make it Count!”, the summer camp lasted from the weekend of June 3, Friday afternoon, to yesterday, June 5, Sunday evening. The camp catered to 12 pre-picked special education MHS students who will be transitioning to adult life after the upcoming school year.

“These three-day living experiences will assist our students in providing postsecondary transition support like integrated basic life skills and independent living skills that will help students imagine and create solutions that provide meaning and value in their life. The students [had] a 1:1 ratio, meaning that each student [was] assigned to one teacher or teacher aide,” said Cynthia Ferrari, special education teacher.

The campers learned some skills to help them live independently and responsibly; joined swimming and kayaking activities, stargazed, and other campout activities; and took part in a carwash fundraising.

The activities allowed “our students to have fun and socialize but at the same time experience independent living and responsibility in real time throughout this three-day summer campout program,” said Ferrari.

During the car wash fundraising last Saturday, first lady Diann Torres, who is a current teacher at MHS, brought a car to be washed as a show of support to the campers.

“I’m here this morning participating and just supporting the ‘Make it Count Summer Camp.’ One of the missions with the Lady Diann Torres Foundation is to support and provide resources for individuals with special needs. When this was shared amongst all the teachers, I jumped [at the chance to offer] the teachers some assistance. I came in yesterday and just dropped a small monetary donation,” she said.

“And then, of course, just being here this morning, seeing the kids with their happy faces, wiping down the cars, is a great feeling.”

Special education teacher aides were seen assisting the students with the carwash fundraising. One of them, John Michael Valmonte, who has been a teacher aide for more than a year at MHS, said the children “are having fun. It’s a mixture of fun and…their hardship as they clean the cars. Yes, it’s hot, it’s tiring, but they’re focused on cleaning and having fun.”

One of the campers who joined the camp in its entirety, Zhenyu Dong, said he “feels very good” about the activities he participated in.

Another camper, David Camacho, said, “I learned how to use the scrubber to clean the tires and the windows. I feel good.” He also described the other activities he did during the camp, “We played volleyball, watched movies, played games… We created our own flags of animals…”

The major sponsors for this camp are the Lady Diann Torres Foundation, Marianas High School, and Joeten Enterprises.

Leigh Gases
Leigh Gases is the youngest reporter of Saipan Tribune and primarily covers community related news, but she also handles the utilities, education, municipal, and veterans beats. Contact Leigh at

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