Community schools program promotes learning for all ages

Posted: Friday, October 24, 2003

With a stated goal of selling a concept, the coordinator of Soldotna Community Schools told Soldotna business leaders it is time to rethink community education.

Saying that most people think of Community Schools as continuing education for adults, Rosie Reeder told the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce that the program promotes lifelong learning for people of all ages.

She said her first contact with community education was at Christmastime one year in Anchorage when she attended a board game night with her children.

Area families brought new board games they received as gifts and all got together in a school to play the games.

"I remember Monopoly and Candy Land," she said.

"We went into a school building that normally would be empty at night. What an idea.

"Soldotna Community Schools is many things to many people. We have classes and activities for all ages," said Reeder, who has been active in the program for 28 years.

Community Schools offers educational, cultural and recreational classes and activities for adults, high school teens and grade-schoolers from kindergarten and up.

Classes are conducted at various locations throughout the Soldotna area, including Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School, Soldotna Middle School, Soldotna and Skyview high schools and the Kenai River Center on Funny River Road.

During the chamber luncheon meeting, Reeder introduced Bill Holt, one of two high-school coordinators for Soldotna Community Schools.

"We have an ever-changing program," Holt said.

"We find out what the kids want to do and we model our activities after that."

He said the most popular activity among high schoolers is going to Alyeska for snowboarding and skiing in winter.

"We have made up to nine trips in a year," Holt said.

He also said he likes to get students away from the school setting and has taken groups of students from Skyview High School to see plays in Anchorage as a Community Schools activity.

Projects the group has been involved in include forming the Skyview-Soldotna High School Skateboard Club, which became somewhat of a political action club to get a skateboard park built in Soldotna, according to Holt.

The Skyview group also worked with the Tsalteshi Trails Association to build additional ski trails behind the high school, extending all the way to Kalifornsky Beach Road.

Reeder said other Community Schools projects have included hunter education in cooperation with the Department of Fish and Game, hospice volunteer training, a learn-to-skate program at the Soldotna Sports Center, a reading carnival and a Safe Kids program.

Funding for Community Schools comes from grants, the City of Soldotna and from class and activity fees, she said.

Reeder told the business people they can become involved by advertising in the Community Schools brochure, which lists all classes and activities along with locations and fees.

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