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Crossroads program winter session adds fun for students

Students explore the outdoors in the Fresh Air Fun Crossroads program class.The weather didn’t cooperate for the Fresh Air Fun after-school class this season.

While many around the community were happy about a relatively tame winter, a lack of snow largely kept the kindergarten and first-grade students in the Crossroads program from the sledding, snowman building and snow painting teacher Jackie Forrest had planned.

But, that didn’t stop the kids from enjoying the outdoors.

“Students created their own games, tried new playground equipment and challenged their social skills,” Forrest said, noting the eight class members were allowed to use the 3-5 playground, “which was a big deal to our little ones.”

Teachers overseeing the Crossroads classes at the Mill Road elementary schools declared the six-week enrichment program a success as the winter session wrapped up last week.

In addition to the Fresh Air Fun class, eight K-1 students participated in Let’s Paint, 13 K-2 students joined the Creators Club, six 3-5 students attended Intro to 3D Printing, and 18 total students joined a chess class, nine each in the beginner (grades 1-3) and intermediate (3-5) chapters.

“I think the programs went very well this session,” said Crossroads director and teaching assistant Jordan Hassett. “I think it is important to offer the kids an opportunity to expand on their interests, since there aren't as many clubs or extracurricular activities for the younger age groups.”

Fourth-grade teacher Stephen Hart taught the intermediate chess class, which he said was “productive” for the players.

“In each session, a strategy was introduced and practiced,” he said, “for example, learning to scan the board carefully before making a move and resisting the impulse to move right away.”

He noted chess “incorporates many life skills,” such as patience, problem-solving and sportsmanship.

“In a time when video games are the predominant form of entertainment, these kids are applying intellect and strategies to compete with one another,” Hart said.

At the Creator’s Club, students met each Tuesday to experiment with different art mediums, executing art projects with such materials as clay, puffy paint and beans. Creator’s Club teacher Courtney Skeen said she would show an example of what can be made with the day’s material, but encouraged the students to create freely.

Students create art during a session of the Let's Paint Crossroads program class.“I loved having everyone come up with their own creations, finding new or different ways to use the various materials and proudly sharing their completed work or ideas with everyone else,” Skeen said, noting some children wanted to take their projects home, “others just enjoyed the process of creating and working with materials, having no end goal – and that was ok, too.”

Forrest said the Fresh Air Fun class played games, such as one designed to improve hand-eye coordination called “Flip Toss,” and explored the nature trail to observe signs of the seasons changing.

“Students also played basketball and we noticed some were teaching an ENL student how to play,” she said, calling it “a sweet and memorable moment.

“Time for fresh air and play is always valuable,” Forrest said, “especially when talking about young learners that are full of energy and curiosity.”

Crossroads is offered three times a year to the Red Hook Central School District’s elementary students. The spring session is planned to begin around the end of April.

Hassett said the teachers and classes change from session to session, which “gives the students an opportunity to meet many different people who work in the district and experience lots of different classes, materials and ideas.”