Throwin' one in for Community Ed.

Meika Bumbalough pitches at Skagway School during the Community Education summer recreation program. Photos by Jennifer Collins

BY JENNIFER COLLINS
Amidst a heated game of running baseball bases, the community education director soothed the calls of foul play among nearly 20 grade-school students.
“It’s not fair,” one student yelled. “They’re not touching the bases.”
In “race car relay,” participants run around Skagway City School’s baseball field, before tagging team members who continue the cycle.
“Everyone has to touch the bases,” Community Education Director Pat Taylor responded to students’ cries.

Director Pat Taylor monitors art projects.

Skagway’s community education program this summer mainly consists of a recreation program for Skagway School students who would otherwise pester their parents with, “What is there to do?”
“My mom says, OK, if you’re bored, there’s some laundry over there and there’s some dishes over there...” Ariana Harry, “almost 11,” said, adding she’s relieved to get out of the kitchen and onto the baseball field.
The program is part of a $350,000 federal 21st Century Community Learning Grant, which is intended to provide education and recreation activities for adults and children. Taylor, who was hired in May, said the recreation program is the first phase of the community education grant.
“We’re trying to focus on the kids who are too old for daycare and too young to have jobs,” Taylor said. “This gives them a place where there’s structure and that there’s less potential for getting into things they shouldn’t,” she said, chuckling.
Taylor organized a detailed schedule of activities for the students – basketball, bowling, “a trip around the world” international research project, dodgeball – and that’s just Tuesday.
“It’s good for us because we’re coming here and not getting into trouble,” 10-year-old Meika Bumbalough said.
“And we’re not sitting around, eating potato chips!” Harry added.
Initially, the recreation program took some coordinating with the City of Skagway Recreation Center, Skagway School Superintendent James Telles said.
“There was overlap at first,” Telles said. “I told Pat you have to be in close communication with Chelsea (Nilsen) at the Rec. Center.”
The two directors have since coordinated their schedules. For instance, children who wish to attend gymnastics at the Rec. Center can leave after snack time at the school, where most of the community education programs take place, Taylor said. Open gym for adult basketball was also rearranged so schedules didn’t conflict with the Rec. Center.
Nilsen said she has also streamlined offerings at the Rec. Center mainly towards adult athletics.
When the Rec. Center opened, Nilsen said she planned cooking and photography classes but realized those activities would be part of the community learning grant.
In the winter, when adults have more free time, Taylor said she will coordinate classes for adults and high school students.
Certified chef Lorna McDermott offered to teach the cooking classes.
“I’ve been thinking about doing a cooking class for bachelors,” McDermott said laughing. “They need all the help they can get.”
Taylor said she’s also tried to coordinate a history class, in which adults and high school students can earn credit through the University of Alaska Southeast’s Sitka campus. Skagway resident Bruce Weber said he would teach the class, which would culminate in individual research projects about Skagway’s history.
Additionally, Skagwayans Karen Gee and Niki Hahn assist a group of eight senior citizens and disabled adults who use the school’s weight room, which Hahn said is more conducive to their needs than the Rec. Center.
Last year, the former special education teacher, Kathleen Beebe, wrote the grant for the program. Although the summer recreation program is free, adults may have to pay an instructor’s or materials fee for the winter classes, Taylor said.
Telles said the grant is mainly “seed money” to start the program that will hopefully continue for several years. Telles said when he was a boy, his school had a similar recreation program.
“Since then, I’ve never seen a program like it (run through the school),” he said beaming at the opportunity provided by the grant.
The young students were equally enthusiastic about the program.
“A nice thing about this program is that if we want to go hiking ... we can go to Pat and she can try to make time for it,” 11-year-old Cierra Hahn said on the baseball field.
“And we get to go swimming!” her nine-year-old sister Paige added emphatically.
When asked what their favorite sport was, the children shouted, “Basketball!” With that, it was time for the next activity and Taylor herded the students inside for a free-throw contest.