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Piñon Project engaging RE-1 students amid new four-day weeks

The “Mesa Dancers” performed for a Montezuma-Cortez school board meeting in 2019. Piñon Project is hosting “Friday Fundays” at Mesa Elementary School beginning this week, in-part to take pressure off working parents amid the Montezuma-Cortez School District RE-1’s shift to four-day school weeks.
Piñon Project is hosting “Friday Fundays” at Mesa Elementary School beginning this week, in-part to take pressure off working parents amid the Montezuma-Cortez School District RE-1’s shift to four-day school weeks.
‘Friday Fundays’ to take place at Mesa Elementary each Friday

With the recent shift to four-day school weeks in the Montezuma-Cortez School District RE-1, Piñon Project is stepping up to offer activities for students beginning Friday.

Sixty kids signed up for Friday’s first fun-filled day. There are more on an already budding waiting list, said Piñon Project Assistant Director Kelli Hargraves.

With four leaders, the current registration remains in line with an ideal ratio of 15 kids to each adult, she said.

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Montezuma-Cortez moving to four-day school weeks

Staffing and corresponding capacity may increase as the program progresses.

Drop-offs and pickups are at Mesa Elementary, and the program will run from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. each week.

Hargraves and other Piñon Project staff want to support parents, especially those who cannot otherwise look after their children on Fridays.

“We know it’s a really difficult time in the country – not just Montezuma County,” she said.

Not only this, but Piñon Project staff want to be there as “caring adults” students can trust.

“We want kids to have people in their lives that they can lean on,” Hargraves said.

Hargraves believes guiding children in community service, prosocial and other fundamental learning activities helps to achieve this.

Students ages 5 to 17 can expect to partake in origami, slime making, painting, kickball and other outdoor activities on the debut of the weekly festivities.

The program will continue to evolve with feedback.

“Really, we want to know what the kids want to do,” Hargraves said.

She’s already looking ahead to the future of the program, hoping to involve other organizations like the fire department in teaching students.

She also mentioned the possibility of scavenger hunts through Hawkins Preserve.

Breakfast, lunch and snacks will be provided. While breakfasts will be fairly simple, consisting of muffins and cereals, Piñon Project hopes the school district will aid in supplying lunches long-term.

“Either way, Piñon Project will find a way,” she said.

The organization is appreciative of the school district’s support and allowance of the use of Mesa Elementary to host the Friday events.

The board of education unanimously voted for the four-day calendar Nov. 16.

In a survey gauging public opinion, just over 87% of staff participants expressed favor for the shortened school weeks, and about 77% of responding parents endorsed the new schedule.

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To register your child, call Naomi Wood with the Piñon Project at 970-739-4074.