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Fantastic Fridays are back

The time of year is here for school to start early release days at to enable our teachers to have professional development—and that means that Cedar Springs Area Parks and Recreation is offering Fantastic Fridays again! This is an after school program on the 11 early release school days for children in grades 1st-5th.  Some parents may not be able to pick up their child or they may need additional options for having their child monitored for the extra period of time.
The program was developed to fill those needs and goes well beyond just a daycare program to being one that includes educational activities.  Each Friday will have a different theme, where the participants will have lessons prepared by a certified teacher and will also get to have interaction with guest speakers and activities. These Fridays will be filled with team-building activities, healthy snacks, educational material and lessons, and craft projects for the child.
On the 11 Fridays, the students will be escorted to Red Hawk Elementary and arrive by 2 p.m., and they will be actively engaged in the program until 5:30 p.m. Students will need to be picked up and signed out by that time.  The program is available for all eleven Fridays or on a pay as you go situation for each individual date. Families that qualify for free or reduced school lunches will be eligible to receive a full or partial scholarship by contacting the department and filling out an application, which is located on the 3rd floor of the C.S. Public Schools District Office (aka-Hilltop Building).
The program also gives high school students a chance to volunteer and assist with escorting students, leading activities and so much more. They can volunteer by contacting the high school volunteer coordinator or contacting the department at 696-7320 or emailing the director at director@csaparksandrec.com.

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Parks and Rec Fantastic Fridays

Parents may be wondering what to do with their Cedar Springs elementary children this year when they are released two hours early on the 11 staff development Fridays spread throughout the school year. But Cedar Springs Public Schools and the Cedar Springs Parks and Area Recreation have come up with an option for those early release Fridays called “Fantastic Fridays.”

Designed for students in first through 6th grade, Fantastic Fridays is an enrichment program that will include healthy snacks, activities, and a certified teacher and daycare provider on staff. Each Friday will have a theme, and could include special guest speakers, craft projects, and recreational activities. Local businesses will help sponsor the program, and high school students will volunteer to tutor and help with students. “It truly is a community project,” said Amanda Gerhardt, Director of Parks and Rec.

According to Gerhardt, high school volunteers will go to Cedar Trails, Beach, and Cedar View and pick up registered students and walk with them to Red Hawk Elementary, where the program will be held. “Students will be accounted for at their school, and again at Red Hawk,” said Gerhardt.

Programs will run from directly after school on early release days until 5:30 p.m. Students can be picked up earlier, however.

There are only a limited number of spots available, and it’s first come first served. “We’ll have 60-80 spots available for each Friday, and those that sign up for all 11 Fridays will have priority,” noted Gerhardt. The cost is $55 for all 11 Fridays, or $8 for individual Fridays.

The first early release day is Friday, Oct. 2, which falls on Red Flannel weekend, so the theme is red, and will include a visit from the first responders at the Cedar Springs Fire Department.

Cedar Springs Superintendent Ron McDermed said they have worked closely with Parks and Rec to come up with a plan for the students. “We know this is not an easy thing for parents, and it was a difficult decision for the board,” he noted. The school used to take off an entire day for professional development, but switched to the early release this school year. McDermed said there were two reasons. One is that they need to keep up on reviewing student achievement and need to increase the time to meet together to do that, and the second reason was the late start of the school year. “If we had continued with the other way (full days off), we would have had to extend the school year well into June,” he explained.

To register for the Fantastic Fridays, pick up a registration form at the district office at Hilltop, or visit the parks and rec website at www.csaparksandrec.com.

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