FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Cursha Pierce-Lunderman, a military spouse, said that her now 4-year-old daughter, Sydnee, still recalls fondly her days in Preschool Spanish. During her stint in the Bright SKIES class, Sydnee would often come home and teach her brother, and sometimes her parents, what she learned in class.

"It was fabulous. I loved it, she loved it," Pierce-Lunderman said about the experience. "Her Spanish comprehension was great; her Spanish speaking was good. It just really gave her a good experience."
Though renovations have halted Bright SKIES classes, such as the preschool Spanish, program administrator Jeanette Dempsey is reassuring parents that the other SKIES offerings are still available.

"Right now, we are going through renovations with our facilities and unfortunately there isn't much space for our programs," Dempsey said. "But we are still having a variety of classes for kids."

Renovations on a new building for SKIESUnlimited are underway and organizers are holding classes at locations across Fort Jackson. SKIES, which stands for Schools of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills, is an Army program that offers a variety of instructional classes for children. Bright SKIES is for children 3 to 5. SKIES varies in age group by class, though many are open to children as young as 6.
The preschool Spanish class, for children, 3 to 5, is just one of the classes that falls underneath the umbrella of the SKIESUnlimited program.

SKIES is moving into the former Child and Youth Services building located next to C.C. Pinckney Elementary School at 5899 Chesnut Road. CYS is moving into a new facility being constructed behind their former building.

Due to construction and renovations in the area, many parents said they think classes are not currently available.

"A lot of people think we are not offering classes, but we are," Dempsey said. "We are just trying to get the word out to parents on Fort Jackson that they can still sign their children up."

Classes during the renovations are being held at Knight Pool, Scales Child Development Center, Fort Jackson Library and the Joe E. Mann Center. A date for completion of renovation on the SKIES facility has not been set.

"We pick the children up and take them there so parents don't have to worry about transportation," Dempsey said.

SKIES is divided into four schools: School of Academic Skills, Mentoring and Intervention; School of Arts, Recreation and Leisure; School of Life Skills, Citizenship and Leadership; and School of Sports, Fitness and Health. Classes are taught by volunteers and contract employees.

Classes offered include karate, gymnastics, ballet, cooking, arts and crafts, beginner Spanish and German and more. Fees range from free to $45 per month and ages for classes range from 2 months old to 18. SKIES was established in 2004 by MWR to provide extracurricular activities for military children and teens. The Fort Jackson program opened in 2005.

"It provides kids with something to do and keeps them out of trouble," Dempsey said. "A lot of who don't have extracurricular activities tend to get into trouble."

Parents can sign up their children online at www.webtrac.mrw.army.mil/webtrac/jacksoncyms.html or call 751-7540 for more information. A class brochure is also available at http://fortjacksonmwr.com/skies/pdf/fall10 brochure.pdf

Editor's note: Crystal Lewis Brown contributed to this report.

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