Kids are beginning to settle in for the 2015-16 school year. How do I know? The “back to school” retail commercials are starting to dwindle to one every hour from six and I think I have seen a holiday commercial from Toys R Us. But, being outdoors most of my day, I can smell the freshly mown football and soccer fields in the area. It is definitely time for school.
It’s a great season for weather as well. We have cool mornings and evenings and in between we have a little summer throwback with warm sunshine. For Parks and Recreation, it means we will soon have enrichments at the Park’s facility.
The field days for students in Harrison and surrounding counties have developed a demand with the teachers in the area. With four programs slated throughout the year as well as recreational field day events, the idea of “off campus” education with students is unique as compared to other parks and recreation departments. Director Mike Book lives for this, as he is one of few who offer this type of forum for kids.
“The County Commissioners have been very supportive in developing the enrichment programs through County funds as well as the Vital Service Levy,” said Book. “All the representatives realize that education is the most important element to the success of the children of Harrison County, and if our department can help elevate the education level then the Commission is on board.”
While the process is in its final stages of preparing the calendar, enrichments pamphlets will be finalized in the closing weeks and sent to all schools in Harrison County in early September. Some final factors needs addressed before we complete the program schedule as Book explains.
“We have a few more scheduling issues with the Board of Education that will be finalized this week, and as soon as we tie up dates with Prehistoric Planet, the pamphlets will be distributed,” said Book. “We are trying to avoid the testing season with the students under the Smart Balance program and we are reserving the dinosaur exhibit pieces in the winter. Once complete, we will be a go.”
In order to eliminate redundancy with the program, Book has taken a different track to some of the program’s themes. For example, with Outdoor Adventures, our interpretive trail will have a new look for the younger kids as fairies and frogs will tell stories of the forest depicted from children’s books.
“We are always asking staff to develop ideas for the program and two have taken the initiative to make the trail more magical through storytelling,” said Book. “The trail will be decorated in a manner that you would see in any children’s story. From fairies to trolls, our trail will take a real-life page out of a children’s book.”
The dinosaur enrichment, which has grown in popularity with not only the children, but the parents as well, will focus its theme on swimmers and flyers from the pre-historic age. HCPR was able to purchase a Mosasaur, an extinct marine predator from the Cretaceous Period. The beast towers at roughly 60 feet and will hang from the rafters during our exhibit scheduled for March and April 2016.
“The purchase from the dinosaur museum in Kansas City, Missouri was way better than we expected,” said Book. “There are eight puzzles that have dinosaurs from various time periods and all are free standing skeletons that kids can put together. And the other two pieces received will make this one of the best exhibits in the state of West Virginia.”