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RAD-ical program gives students alternative activites

Amy Hamilton

There’s no excuse for Craig middle school students who complain there’s nothing to do after school.

In fact, the options are plentiful judging from the commotion at Craig Middle School and Craig Intermediate School between the hours of 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. most days of the week.

Over the course of a week, 248 fifth- through eighth-grade students filter through the RAD (Recreational After-school Doorway program) picking up new skills, engaging in exercises or beefing up brainpower in ways not offered in the regular school day.



It’s one reason why residents should celebrate National After School Activities Day Thursday, Oct. 9, by turning on porch lights and headlights in their cars as they drive around throughout the day, said Dianne Gould, the local executive director of RAD.

“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.”



Indeed, if it weren’t for the local after-school activities, sixth-grade Craig Intermediate School student Jessie Gorley quipped, “I’d be watching TV.”

Yet instead of cartoon reruns, Gorley was transported back to the late 1800s on Monday afternoon in a Wild West class. Gorley, with ten other classmates, or rather fellow pioneers, tried to determine which items to place in a covered wagon in preparation of a westward journey. Some students allotted 5 pounds of flour and two toothbrushes a piece for the five-month, 2,000-mile journey. Others leaned toward excesses of 150 pounds of gunpowder, 20 pounds of bacon and six pairs of socks for the migration.

“I like it because my family did the wagon train thing,” said sixth grader Kathrine Cork of the class.

Hanging out in the basement of the Museum of Northwest Colorado, which is fashioned around the setting of an old one-room schoolhouse, further fascinated the student.

“I like it down here,” Cork said, taking in a mannequin teacher in period dress and rows of high school photos that date back to 1906 and line the walls.

In upcoming sessions, students will build a log cabin and create pioneer crafts, said instructor Mary Carrera.

Back at Craig Middle School, the library is transformed into a temporary sewing station.

Sixth-grade student Nikk Warden said he couldn’t be happier to build on the sewing skills he learned through the after-school activities last year.

“Maybe I’ll try to make a pillow,” he said. “I chose sewing because I liked it a lot. I also like being with my librarian.”

Just as the library switched to stitching mode, librarian Sandy Feeney morphed into a sewing instructor, leading students into introductory sewing techniques alongside other volunteers from the Craig Sewing Guild.

It’s the efforts of the 34 leaders and assistants, including many volunteers that make the program a success, said Gould.

Without them, the diverse selection of classes ranging from yoga to introductory crime solving wouldn’t be possible. Nor would all the class options, supplies and personnel time be fathomable providing this year’s grant allocation of $45,000, without the generous community involvement.

“The reason we started this was because the funds were so limited at first,” Gould said.

An initial after-school program allowed for 10 students who paid $15 each. After hearing from more than 100 interested students, Gould noted the need for local after-school activities and helped earn the grant from the Colorado Trust.

In its third year, the free after-school activities for middle school students has grown tremendously, Gould said. Some classes, such as rock climbing, friendship building, horseback riding and storytelling, have been added to arts, academic and foreign language curriculum.

Some classes still have open enrollment for this year or students can enroll in a new batch of classes in January.

But the program that is working in Moffat County School District is turning heads elsewhere. Recently, representatives from the city of Grand Junction shadowed the local program to duplicate it there.

The program works because students need a place to be after school where they’re safe and having fun, Gould said.

“With this age group, they’re too old for daycare and too young to stay at home,” she said. “If these kids weren’t here, most of them would go home and there would be nobody there.”

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


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