Registration for Recreational Afterschool Doorway's spring semester ends Friday, and Executive Director Dianne Gould said she is overwhelmed by the number of youths who have signed up.
"We're offering more classes every day than we ever have in the past," she said. "Each kid has their choice of six classes each day."
The program, which is free of charge to participants, allows students to enroll in courses outside of the weekday curriculum.
They are "learning things the schools don't have time to teach" from community volunteers, Gould said.
She typically involves 150 participants and already had more than 100 signed up halfway through the weeklong registration period.
There are 24 classes this semester, many of them new. Repeat classes about rock climbing and hunting safety continue to be the most popular, but she is looking forward to offering new courses.
Lend Me Your Ears allows students to have a novel read to them and compare it to a movie based on the book. Home on the Range exposes the youths to farm animals, and Party Pizzazz teaches them to pre-plan a social event, including calligraphy to make personalized invitations.
Also new are photography, synchronized swimming, cake decorating, aerobics, machine embroidery and bingo.
Students also can take a class about Chinese culture, learning to speak and write Chinese and play modern games.
The gardening class is offering a new landscaping portion and crafts will now have a science background.
"They're actually having fun but learning at the same time, too," Gould said.
Gould gets ideas for new classes from the evaluations youths fill out at the end of each semester.
Courses are offered to fifth- and sixth-graders between 3:10 and 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday at Craig Intermediate School. Snacks and drinks are provided at no charge.
Starla Stuart, the on-site coordinator at CIS, and Ashley Alexander, her assistant, help the teachers and keep the program running smoothly.
Youths indicate a preference for which courses they'd like to take, and if there are more interested than openings, a computer randomly chooses who gets enrolled.
RAD also offers a program for seventh- and eighth-graders on Tuesday afternoons. Becky Fields will lead the students in a different activity each week to keep them active.
"It's basically to keep kids off the streets and keep them from going home to empty homes," Gould said of the program.
Spring classes start the week of April 4. For more information, visit the office, 1280 Industrial Ave., or call RAD at 826-0199.
Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.