Afterschool program takes off with variety of activities

Organizers of a unique afterschool program in Craig have been asked to help set up a network of similar progams statewide.

The Recreational Afterschool Doorway program, or RAD, is one of only two in the state. Grand Junction is where the other RAD program operates.

At Craig's Intermediate and Middle schools, students stay after school to engage in a variety of activities.

Walk down the hallways of Craig Intermediate School after 3 p.m. and hear the high pitch of a flute coming from behind a classroom door. Keep going, and students are squealing in delight, scoring in the fast-paced dice game called bunco. Even further down, students are learning the ins and outs of coin collecting.

"You only want to touch the sides of a coin or else it will lose its face-value," explained fifth-grader Tommy Clevenger.

The RAD program is in its third year of a five-year grant secured from the Colorado Trust. The Trust is a grant-making organization aimed at increasing the quality of life for Coloradoans.

Over the years, more students are signing up for the weekly afterschool activities as RAD workers and teachers dream up a host of creative ideas, said Dianne Gould, local executive director.

"Having something for children to do after school is important," she said. "Studies have shown that if students aren't in a program between the hours of three and six, they'll probably be on the couch watching TV and eating junk food."

Nearly 150 fifth- to eighth-grade students are registered for the current program, Gould said. Some are registered for a class more than once a week which bumps the number of students circulating through all the classes to 225.

A handful of new classes this session include CIS Idol, a voice-training opportunity that mimics the popular TV show. One class has students learning the trendy Yu-Gi-Oh game, while another teaches students to play the saxophone.

Besides the engaging games, some students use the after school hours for much needed one-on-one time to review schoolwork with a tutor.

"Students get in here and their grades go sky-high," Gould said. "Then their esteem goes sky-high and parent's say, 'What a difference.' There's a huge difference in grades."

RAD organizers are trying to nail down programming by March 3 for spring's afterschool session. Community members and high school students are encouraged to teach or oversee a class. Some instructors may be offered a small stipend for teaching a class. Student instructors have the option of getting paid or using the experience to count toward class credit.

But the program that is working in the Moffat County School District is turning heads elsewhere, Gould said.

RAD organizers have been asked by the Colorado Trust to help organize a coalition of afterschool programs to be administered around the state.

Gould encouraged local afterschool organizers to get on board with the forming committee.

"It's an honor for (Colorado Trust) to ask us to head it up," she said.

But the biggest tribute to local efforts is how far the afterschool program has come when it started with four years ago with merely 10 students, she said.

Hundreds of volunteer hours later and even more students have filtered through the program.

"Some kids end up picking up talents they never knew they had," Gould said.

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or at ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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