Spotlight on Nevis Community Education

Katie Rittgers is the new community education director at Nevis School. Lorie Skarpness/Enterprise.

Katie Rittgers has been busy in her new position as the community education director at Nevis School.

She shared updates with the board Monday night during their “Spotlight on Education” segment.

In addition to old favorites, she has added some new offerings as well. One is “Discovery Wednesday,” a free program offered through Bethany Lutheran Church.

“I’ve been trying to add some arts and craft classes as well,” she said. “We just did a sewing class with our elementary kids and there was a good turnout for that. There is also a chunky blanket class coming up, a freestyle painting class and a weekly art club.”

She said the goal is to have a healthy blend between sports classes and arts classes.


The Silver and Fit program is getting a new name. Silver Sneakers works with insurance programs, and a tentative start date of March 1 is planned.

“We have a lot of older individuals who use the fitness center and rely on that endorsement,” Superintendent Gregg Parks said.

Rittgers conducted a survey about the issue of fitness center accessibility by student athletes that was brought up at the last school board meeting. Out of 104 email surveys sent out, 18 responses were received and 11 of them said the student availability did not work for them. She said that wasn’t enough of a response to put additional staff time supervising the center, but she is looking at doing more for student athletes during the summer months.

School age care, another program under the community education umbrella, has moved from the school cafeteria to the community education building. She said the move has been mostly positive, with safer access for parents picking up their children. Hannah Spry is the school age coordinator, and two student workers also help out with the program.

There are 15 to 25 children on the school age care roster. A Touchstone Energy Award from Itasca Mantrap Electric Cooperative has been used to purchase furnishing and supplies for the space.

The back of the community education building has been put back into a classroom space.

Whether it is necessary to complete background checking for adults teaching adult classes was discussed, since most neighboring districts only require background checks for instructors who will be working with youth. Parks said he will look into that issue. He also is looking at the summer school age program to see if it can at least break even from a financial standpoint. “We’re reviewing that, and if we find we are losing money it might go by the wayside,” he said.

Rittgers said it is also hard to find student workers to help with the summer school age program as most students have summer jobs at area businesses.

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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