By Rachel Parks, III Corps and Fort Hood Public AffairsNovember 1, 2011
FORT HOOD, Texas, Nov. 1, 2011 -- Ribbon cutting ceremonies for the two newest child development centers, Kouma CDC and Montague CDC, were held for the community Oct. 19.
While both CDC facilities have been open for about two months, the ribbon cutting ceremonies gave Soldiers, Family members and community leaders the chance to tour the facilities and learn about the programs available at Fort Hood for military children.
Both new facilities were identified as needs at Fort Hood because of the high deployment tempo, and money from the Army Family Covenant was used to fund their construction.
Sky Clarke, the facility director of the Kouma CDC and the SKIES Unlimited manager, said the facilities give Soldiers and families a tangible object to show them that the Army is dedicated to their well-being.
"It shows continuing support for our families," she said of the two new facilities. While both are child development centers, the Kouma location also has the distinction of being the hub for the SKIES program.
"It's the schools of knowledge, inspiration, exploration and skills, which is what SKIES stands for," Clarke said. She added that more than 600 children take part in the SKIES program, in more than 90 classes held at the facility each month.
"We hit the road running when we moved in here," she said with a laugh. "We teach German classes. We have Arabic classes. We have piano. We have academic tutoring, scuba diving, fishing -- we have over 200 classes each month," she added, noting that some classes are held in other locations around the community.
Nicholas Johnsen, director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, marveled at the number of classes offered through the SKIES program during his remarks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"I went to West Point and I didn't take 200 classes," he said. He also spoke about how the SKIES program benefits military children.
"(The classes are) all designed to help them become more knowledge, give them skill sets that they would otherwise not have and really improve them as individuals," he said. "We are looking forward to many years of providing a wonderful, welcoming environment to our Fort Hood children and youth here at the Kouma Child Development Center."
After the ribbon cutting, visitors took a tour of the facility, peeking in on a gymnastics class, visiting an art studio designed to make the most of natural light and walking through an educational and fun playground area.
"This facility in particular is beautiful. It's bright, it's very welcoming and I think that really is a nice breath of fresh air for the community," Clarke said. "We love it."
Staff at the facility shared her sentiments, including Nancy Holder, a SKIES art teacher.
"This room is an art teacher's dream," she said after showing off students's projects during the walking tour. "It's stocked with everything we need."
She said the many creative programs offered through the SKIES program provide military children with an outlet for their emotions, and the fact that they now have a state-of-art facility is just icing on the cake.
"The families really need a stress-free place where they can be encouraged," she said.