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Elementary students go retro

A typical after-school activity for North Bend Elementary School second-grader Collin Anderson might include video games and electronics, or taking part in one of the various sports in which he is involved.

For six weeks this school year, though, he has been playing what may arguably be considered antiquated games such as kick-the-can, "catch, don't catch," tag, marbles and hopscotch.

He's also been listening to music from the 1950s, discovering who Howdy Doody was, listening to radio mystery plays, and playing versions of the old television game shows "Password and "Concentration."

And he said he intends to bring those games into his neighborhood now that he knows them.

Anderson is one of 17 students ranging from first- through fifth grade who are participating in the "Blast from the Past" class.

It is one of 18 of the after-school PTSA-sponsored Resource Integration for Scholastic Enrichment (RISE) programs offered at NBE this spring. Classes, which are held for an hour after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, began in early March and will wrap up this Thursday.

The classes are taught by parents, teachers and community members for a one-time $30 fee - with need-based scholarships available. The RISE program will run again next spring; volunteers and class ideas are welcome, as program planning and coordination begins this fall.

"There's a whole bunch of old-fashioned games we don't play anymore," Anderson said. "They just seem so old fashioned that people don't think they're that good anymore, but they're actually fun and exciting."

Other classes offered include Dance, Knitting and Crocheting, Tae Kwon Do, Fun with Ferrets, the logic-games class Odyssey of the Mind, Sign Language and more.

Parent teacher Lynn McCulley, who developed the idea for the Blast from the Past class, said that "kids just don't go out and play any more. They are over-scheduled, they sit in front of the computer ... I just thought it would be kind of fun to learn about the way kids used to play."

Fourth-grader Emma Panciroli said that she often hangs out with her friends and enjoys playing video games, but since starting the Blast from the Past class, she has amassed a wealth of new game ideas.

"It's really fun; it's just not something I'd think of," she noted.

Second-grade teacher Diana Balsley, who has been teaching at NBE for 28 of her 40-year teaching career, enjoys the idea that the children are having their first exposure to games from her youth.

"It made me think, 'Really, kids don't need batteries, they don't need technology to have a good time,'" she said. "It's exciting, it's very exciting to see that, yes, these games are going to continue on if someone's going to teach them."

Blast from the Past class assistant Dianna Kraml said she thinks it's great to get the children to think about things that are not electronic and to get out of the habit of expecting to be entertained rather than developing their own imaginations.

"It helps them use their minds more," she said, noting that many of the games in the class are also physically interactive. "I think physical activity is important, as is learning game behavior."

"RISE is intended to provide after-school scholastic enrichment that would not usually be available," said first-year program director Dustine Wilde. "They get hands-on experience and it also allows them to get more [exposure] to the community."

The RISE program began in 1999 with a $300 grant and has since become a self-supporting staple of the PTSA program at NBE. It has also been offered at Opstad Elementary, though not this year.

"It just gives the kids the opportunity to try something new," said NBE PTSA president Josephine McAlister, who estimated that between one-third to one-fourth of the school's student body currently participates. "It's some extra time for kids to just have a good time and learn something new."

Another activity to take note of at NBE is the school's second annual ArtWalk from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 6.

"We really want to showcase everybody's work," said fine arts enrichment director Crystal Prins, noting that the students will not have their work judged. "It's an all-school art show for the pure exhibition of art. Everybody has something, even the kids that don't think they're real artsy."

In a school with close to 600 students, Prins said that about 500 entries were received. Items to be seen include drawings, paintings, collages, photography, written work and more.

The school will have the original art posted up around the school, but April 6 marks the date that parents and interested community members will be able to view the artwork in an open-house style showing in the halls of the main building and in the multipurpose room.

There will also be ice cream available, made and served by the Mount Si High School culinary students. Parents, teachers and staff members will also have art to display.

"The idea is just to view and enjoy and celebrate the artistic creations of the kids at school," Prins said.

Last year's submissions included drawings of flowers and dinosaurs, a collage of recycled materials, a photograph of a boy and his shadow, as well as masks, sculptures and more.

"They just have really creative ideas," Prins said. "That's what's so cool about it."

Some of the items featured will also be auctioned in the school's spring fund-raising auction on May 12.

North Bend Elementary is located at 400 E. Third St. in North Bend. For more information, call the school at (425) 831-8400.

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