Lindsay Ralston, director of the School Age Center, plays with blocks along with Cassidy Raszkowski and Demetrias Stagikas after school Nov. 26 in the center's large game room at Fort Sill. The center features many different rooms including a homework room, a gym, a computer room, a crafts room, a kitchen and more.

If you're looking for a fun, safe place for your school-age children to spend some time before and after school and for the holidays, look no further than the School Age Center (SAC) on Fort Sill.

The SAC offers many new programs and services under the direction of Lindsay Ralston, who has a degree from the University of Oklahoma in early childhood education, and has taught school in the Oklahoma City metro area and for Lawton Public Schools.

Ralston was the school liaison officer for Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation until August when she was named the SAC director.

"I love this job because I get to work with awesome kids. I get to interact with them at a personal level and just enjoy them," she said. "I look forward to getting up in the morning because I work with a great group of caregivers who love the kids, too; I wouldn't want to be anywhere else each day."

Ralston is a former military child and understands the unique challenges military children face.

"I enjoy helping military children and families; whether it is as a director, school liaison officer or a teacher, I try to do whatever I can."

Since she moved to the SAC, she has been implementing new services and programs for parents and their children to provide the best programming for kids in the area.

Some of the programming she is working on includes bringing more SKIES Unlimited classes to the center so kids may participate in these programs without straining the parent's time and resources.

SKIES is an acronym for School of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills, and unlimited for the unlimited learning possibilities. Winter classes include junior outdoor explorers, science adventures, reading tutoring, golf lessons, archery and bowling.

"We now offer SKIES classes here in the building so parents don't have to pick up their kids to go to karate or ballet classes," she said. "Now, kids can come here after school, stay for SKIES classes and their parents can pick them up afterward."

Ralston said the center teams up with STARBASE Oklahoma and hosts two classes in the building during the day. STARBASE Oklahoma is a partnership between the National Guard, Fort Sill's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs and local area schools. The program is a hands-on, inquiry-based aerospace education program intended to inspire students to further explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Over the course of the five weeks of instruction, the students, or "cadets" as they are known at STARBASE, learn more about such subjects as astronomy, rocketry, hydroponics, physics along the line of Newton's Laws of Motion, with constant emphasis on team building.

Cadets are introduced to new vocabulary, mathematical concepts, scientific processes and inquiry, problem-solving and hands-on experiments to experience what they are learning.

"We are planning monthly themes and are trying to do more with the kids than just having them play computer games all day. We are working on things like homework, fitness and science activities. Next month the kids are making rockets," said Ralston. "We are working hard to provide the best environment and activities to enrich the kids while they have fun. I want the kids to continue to tell their parents they don't want to go home and to be excited to come to SAC and be with us."

Upcoming events
Ralston has improved center activities and brought fun and interesting people into the center to supplement center programs.

"We recently had the Army softball team come do a clinic, and we had the military police K-9 unit do a demonstration," she said. "We are having 4-H come do a big science activity Dec. 5."

Ralston said kids enrolled in the before and after school programs at the SAC will have lots of options for winter break and over the winter months. These programs are free to for children already enrolled at the SAC.

"We have open recreation the first Friday of every month from 5:30-9:30 p.m. Enrolled children have four free hours of care so their parents can go out and have a date night or go to the grocery store alone," said Ralston.

"We also have the LPS half days where any child can come for hourly care. We try to bring in fun activities since we have a longer time with the kids on those days. The next LPS half day is Dec. 5."

Ralston said winter break is Dec. 26 to Jan. 4.

"We will have two weeks of winter camp Dec. 26-28 and Jan. 2-4. We are planning some really cool activities and trips for those weeks."

She wants parents to know the SAC is a safe, fun place to take their children -- whether for before and after school care or for the school holidays.

"I encourage parents who have participated in the program in the past and those who have never participated to come to the center and check us out to see the great things happening here."

The route to the SAC has changed with the only way in or out being the road through Buffalo Soldier Acres. This route has a low speed limit and is accessed from Mow-Way Road. Regardless, getting to the center is worth it for parents when they know their children are well cared for by a staff who make the time spent at the center the best it can possibly be.

"Come by any time to see what we are all about," she said.

Page last updated Thu November 29th, 2012 at 15:09