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After-School Programming Brings Opportunities to Learn and Explore 

After-School Programming Brings Opportunities to Learn and Explore 

On Monday afternoons around 3:15, students and volunteers gather in the media center of Soda Creek Elementary for Homework Club. Homework Club is where students receive extra skills-based learning in math and reading if they need the practice, get help with their homework, or even participate in activities in the community. Homework Club at SCE is just one example of the after-school programming available at Steamboat Springs School District schools. 

The initial idea for after-school programming started when a parent could not support their child at home with school work either because they were unfamiliar with the content/curriculum or unable to understand the work sent home in English. In years past, some parents would spend hours translating information before being able to support their child. 

Sara Craig-Scheckman, founder and board president of the Craig-Scheckman Family Foundation (CSFF), is passionate about youth advocacy and saw an opportunity to help establish sustainable programming at the schools to lift up kids who needed extra support. CSFF provided the initial $25,000 in funding in 2015 to start after-school programs within SSSD and continues to provide support to this day. The foundation engages with communities to equip them with the tools necessary to improve pathways towards equitable access to wellness and quality of life. 

"We just want all kids to have access to all the resources and opportunities out there, said Craig-Scheckman. "We want them to be able to reach their full potential." 

Now, Soda Creek Elementary, Sleeping Giant School, and Strawberry Park Elementary offer after-school programs that help to enrich students' education. 

"It has just blossomed from there," said Ann Coon, an English language specialist at Soda Creek Elementary.

What makes the programs notable are the volunteers and community partnerships that help make it happen. Three members of the teaching staff, volunteers, and community organizations all come together at Soda Creek to engage with the students and help them out however they can. At SGS, four members of the teaching staff and volunteers come to help out as well. 

Pam Ruehle from Women United, part of Routt County United Way, has volunteered at Soda Creek for five years. She loves getting to know the kids and seeing their faces light up once they figure something out. She is also always impressed when the kids have different ways of solving the same problem. 

Kerry Kaster always works with the first graders. He has been volunteering for the last three years and loves watching the kids improve, especially in writing and English. 

“They are so smart and competitive,” Kaster said. 

Middle and high school students also come to Homework Club to volunteer. Leslie Jimenez, a 9th grader at Steamboat Springs High School, says she loves helping the kids and being back at Soda Creek. 

Lucy Hackman, an emerging bilingual specialist at SGS,  is also a crucial part of the Homework Club at SGS which meets every Monday from 3:00-4:15. About 35 students from grades 3-8 participate each week. Hackman started Homework Club last year at SGS. She previously worked at Soda Creek and wanted to bring the programming to SGS. 

Hackman said the Homework Club at SGS runs October through mid-May and is for all students in third-grade and up. She is always looking for additional volunteers to help meet the student's needs since the program serves many students in different grades. 

“Homework Club is a great place for students to be productive and collaborate with their peers on school work,” said Hackman. 

Aquiles Arias with the book Bloom

Aquiles Zamarripa Arias, a fourth grader at SGS, comes to Homework Club every Monday. He loves to finish his homework before he gets home. His favorite subject is reading, and he is working through a book called “Bloom” by Kenneth Oppel. 

With the help of Ruben Dones, a biliteracy teacher at SGS, Hackman is looking to keep the momentum going with a spring ACE Club. They want to take the students on 4-5 field trips around the community. 


“Homework Club is a great place for students to be productive and collaborate with their peers on school work,” said Hackman.

Strawberry Park Elementary reinstated its Adventure Club this year. It provides opportunities to explore our community through nature, art, and excursions. In the fall, 2nd and 3rd graders partnered with Yampatika naturalists to learn about hiking etiquette and nature journaling. This spring, 4th and 5th graders are visiting the Steamboat Art Museum and exploring our community through snowshoeing. 

ACE Club (which stands for achieving, collaborating, and exploring) is another after-school program offered at Soda Creek and SGS that allows emerging bilingual (EB) students to try out new activities they might not be exposed to otherwise. 

This year, the students had the chance to learn to ski or snowboard, thanks to the hard work of school staff, donations from the community, and a dedicated group of volunteers. For three consecutive Wednesdays this March, EB students from Soda Creek and SGS had the chance to learn to ski at Howleson Hill. Free rentals were provided through Steamboat Ski and Bike Kare, and the lift tickets were provided by the city. 

Lori Keefe, a youth development coach for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, helps to coordinate the coaches and volunteers from the club who help the students learn to ski or snowboard. 

The final ski day of the season was on March 15. It was an unusually rainy and warm March day for Steamboat, and many of the kids donned trash bags, aka “east coast ski jackets,” to ensure they stayed warm and dry for their ski day.

“Every kid that grows up in Steamboat should have the chance to learn to ski,” said Keefe. “The kids are so excited that they are even willing to ski in the rain!”