Outings, community service featured in WCS program

WARRENSBURG Nine-year-old Elizabeth Harris threw herself into a snow bank Saturday at the conclusion of a two-mile snowshoe hike with her peers through Pack Forest. Its cool to walk where people cant go with regular boots, she said. And I really liked sliding on these snowshoes down hills like youre on skis. Elizabeth was trekking with 16 other Warrensburg Elementary School students and their parents, many of whom were on snowshoes for the first time. Activities like this build new skills and promote healthful living, Outings Club Guide and School Social Worker John Friauf said as several students tossed snowballs and others were removing snowshoes. And experiencing our local natural resources, too, is a great idea. The trip was an event sponsored by the Warrensburg Central School Outings Club, one of a variety of programs instituted this year at WCS through a New York State Dept. of Education Project SAVE grant. Although the states SAVE grant program was launched to prevent violence in schools, the $240,000 grant to WCS, to be spent over three years, has other goals in the Warrensburg area. The aims of the grant locally include boosting students leadership skills, developing character traits, providing new opportunities, and widening horizons, according to Warrensburg Elementary Principal Amy Langworthy, who wrote the grant application. A key element of the program is to develop a lifelong bond between students, their parents, and the community, she said. Its a matter of building a bridge between the school and the town by providing opportunities for kids to reach out and feel that they are a part of the community, she said. The program, aimed at all grade levels, includes community service projects, outdoor education initiatives, and recreational opportunities, she said. Giving kids as many positive opportunities as possible goes a long way in creating good character, she said. Activities sponsored by the grant include a series of outdoor education events held at Up Yonda Farm -- an environmental education center in Bolton -- and a visit to a natural history museum of the Adirondacks. Community service activities include gathering food and delivering it to food panties, cleaning and raking yards for the elderly, picking up litter throughout town, and collecting toys and money to brighten childrens lives at Christmas. High schoolers have been planning a courtyard for the Junior-Senior High School, complete with sculptures and Adirondack chairs that students are creating. Also, Warrensburg Central has hosted consultants who have helped senior high school students develop leadership traits.. The school staff has also used the grant money to help 8th graders learn life skills including problem solving, anger management, dealing with peer pressure, and setting their goals high for the future. The schools new Outings Club includes hiking, ice skating, bicycling, rock climbing, and a wide variety of family activities. Such activities, aimed at building childrens resourcefulness and helping them discover new interests, have lifelong benefits, according to local Project SAVE Coordinator Bonnie Roth. We want to help kids see theres more out there than they may now be aware of, she said. We want them to be taking advantage of all the opportunities, rather than sitting in front of their televisions or playing video games.

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