By Carrie Click

RIFLE – What do you do with a school day off every week? If you live in the Garfield School District

Family Fridays graduation ceremony

At the Family Fridays graduation ceremony on Nov. 22, both parents and children graduated from the 12-week educational program. Photo Carrie Click

Re-2, one option is Family Fridays/Viernes en Familia, a program created to provide fun, educational and productive experiences for parents and their children at Colorado Mountain College Rifle.

On Nov. 22, nearly 20 families became the first graduates of the multigenerational and bilingual educational series.

“We listened to the community to learn what these parents and their kids wanted to experience with this program,” said Marjorie Lear, CMC Rifle assistant dean of instruction, who was instrumental in coordinating Family Fridays.

Colorado Mountain College and a collection of partners created Family Fridays to provide learning opportunities during Garfield School District Re-2’s four-day school week. With school not in session on Fridays, Family Fridays now fills that time with a range of constructive activities for families.

“We had so many key resources to help us form content in connecting these families,” said Lear.

During the graduation ceremony on Nov. 22, dozens of family members gathered in Clough Auditorium at the campus. They received certificates of completion, and watched a slideshow of program highlights.

All in the family

Between Sept. 6 and Nov. 22, the first cohort of parents brought their children to CMC Rifle on Friday mornings. Many of the parents are familiar with the college, as they’re involved in ESL and GED instruction at the campus.

At Family Fridays, the parents received instruction from Colorado Mountain College faculty and guest experts from community agencies. They studied GED preparation, ESL practice, wellness, mindfulness, healthy cooking, budgeting and more. Their children, ranging from infants to middle school students, participated in an assortment of activities during the same time at the college.

Nature walk during Family Fridays

During the Family Fridays series, parents and children participated in separate activities and classes at CMC Rifle, then gathered together at the end of each session for a group activity, like this nature walk near the Rifle campus. Photo Marjorie Lear

While the very young attended childcare, the older kids participated in weekly sessions led by 4-H STEM Garfield County CSU Extension. They learned about detective science, electricity gardening and even physics through building “stomp rockets.” Teens participated in hands-on science activities led by CMC faculty. The end of each Friday morning culminated with an activity for the whole family.

Garfield County Department of Human Services funds Family Fridays. In addition to Colorado Mountain College, partners include 4-H STEM Garfield County CSU Extension, and Garfield County Outdoors, which held several sessions during the fall program, including a hike into the White River National Forest above Rifle with 49 parents and children. Additional organizations include Visión Latina, Garfield County Department of Public Health, RE-2, Raising A Reader and nearly a dozen other agencies.

With the first cohort graduated, plans are in place to provide more learning opportunities for those graduates, and to introduce the next Family Fridays series at CMC Rifle in spring. For more information about Family Fridays, email Marjorie Lear or call 970-625-6943.