Class Practice
The youngest students of SKIESUnlimitedAca,!a,,cs Taekwondo class practice for upcoming belt testing.

While everyone knows the opportunities the Army offers its Soldiers, civilians and contractors in their careers, they may not realize the opportunities it offers for the children to learn and explore their interests.

The SKIESUnlimited program offers fun and educational classes for Team Redstone's youngest members.

Currently, the Schools of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills Unlimited offers three continual programs. Kids from as young as 3 can take weekly classes in piano, Taekwondo or choose from dance, cheerleading and gymnastics offerings. All classes are taught by instructors who express their enthusiasm for the youngsters.

"I do this because I love it," Taekwondo master Jeffrey Davis said. "Some of these kids came to me at 7 or 8 and now they're getting ready to go off to college. It's fantastic to watch them grow into who they are going to be."

The program began about five years ago as a way for military children to have continuity in extracurricular offerings as they move from post to post over the year.

"We were very excited to see master Davis was still here," Sgt. 1st Class Rick Potter said. "My oldest two and I took classes with him when we were stationed here before. We all got our yellow belts with him. Now, my youngest, Sam, is getting the same experience we had."

These days, however, the Redstone population is becoming a more civilian one. All SKIESUnlimited programs are open to the children of civilians, retirees and contractors. If space allows, the programs will also accept kids without a post affiliation, according to Andre Terry, chief of Child Youth and School Age Services.

"We do have a special provision for those outside the gate, however our priority is for anybody who works within the gates," Terry said. "That's not just Soldiers. It's civilians, contractors and anybody who can get through our gates."

All kids attending a program are required to sign up through the central registration office in building 1500. However, Terry said all fees have been waived to do so. Parents just need to fill out the paperwork and supply the necessary documents - such as immunization blue cards and a birth certificate.

Instructional programs have a flat monthly fee. Fees for the courses currently offered range from $35 to $50 monthly, which can be a considerable savings for parents.

"We just want to break even," Terry said. "We're not worried about making a profit, so we are able to do things at a reasonable cost - even if our bottom line is zero."

New course offerings are in the works. Terry said plans are to begin five new programs, the first of which will kick off in the next few months. The rest will be added over the course of this school year. The final addition should begin by fall 2010.

Two more music classes are planned first. One will be a class in the electronic keyboard, exploring its different sound and capabilities. SKIESUnlimited will also be adding guitar lessons to their course list. The classes are designed for beginners and carry an extra incentive for parents - kids are not required to have an instrument. They will be able to use an instrument belonging to the program while they are at class.

"Parents worry about buying instruments when kids are just starting lessons," Terry said. "This is a way for them to see if the child will stick with the lessons without worry about being stuck with an instrument if they don't."

Two languages will be offered through SKIESUnlimited. Kids will be able to learn Spanish or American Sign Language through weekly classes with a language expert.

"We've never had these before," Terry said. "It's coming during this school year."

The last slated addition may also be the biggest. Terry said plans are under way to bring Drivers Education to Redstone.

"It will probably be fall of next year," he said. "We're working on the contracts and legal aspects of it."

For more information on current or upcoming classes, call 976-6674 or visit central registration.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16