MARQUETTE - Even though school is out until after the new year begins, area children still have many opportunities to continue learning outside of the conventional classroom.
The Marquette YMCA's Winter I Session begins Jan. 2 and offers a wide variety of classes to an equally wide variety of age groups.
The Y has everything from swim lessons to gymnastics, art programs to karate, said Chief Executive Officer Lisa Coombs-Gerou.
"We have such a range for every age, every ability," said Coombs-Gerou.
The Winter I Session runs for seven weeks, ending on Feb. 18.
Two new programs are on the roster this year with a girls' cheerleading course offered on Tuesday nights and a Girls' Night Out class held weekly.
The latter is targeted to sixth through eighth grade girls and is a class Coombs-Gerou said she was excited to introduce this year.
"It's a weekly program for two hours. It brings girls together to talk about the issues of today, things they might be facing at schools, maybe they're dealing with bullying, self-esteem, body issues," Coombs-Gerou said.
The girls night out evenings will also feature yoga instruction, information on healthy eating, a self-defense class and a beauty night.
"We'll have a certified cosmotologist showing them how to properly care for their skin, use make-up that's age appropriate," Coombs-Gerou said.
She said the idea for the Girls Night Out course began to take form as teens would go to the Y to attend dances held there.
"I started researching other activities for this age group, found similar things at other (YMCA facilities) and tweaked a few things for some of the girls in our area and in our facility," she said.
The cheerleading course was suggested by the facility's gymnastics instructors, who said they saw an interest for it from kids in their classes.
"My instructors who teach gymnastics class have a strong cheerleading background and thought it would be fun. They came up with that class," Coombs-Gerou said.
Vandenboom Child Development Center is offering special courses during the winter break as well.
"We feel that, by offering the students learning opportunities throughout the break, their not losing what they learned during the school year," said Lead Preschool Teacher Chris Hagerl.
The classes are for children aged five to 13 and will focus on art projects that will incorporate other activities that would involve physical movement and word development.
Classes include designing sleds out of old cardboard boxes and using pop bottles filled with water and other materials to allow students to see how the freezing rate can be affected.
"We want the kids to form hypotheses and come up with ideas of what would happen on their own," Hagerl said.
Vandenboom's program runs daily through next week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The cost is $30 per day for YMCA members and $60 for nonmembers.
Kids will receive a morning and afternoon snack as well as lunch. If students are there before 8:30 a.m., they will also receive breakfast.
Hagerl said though prior notification of a student's enrollment is preferred, it's not necessary. Parents can drop their kids off at any time throughout the day.
The Marquette YMCA can be contacted at 906-227-9622 for more information on specific times and costs for each course in the Winter I Session.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.