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After facing similar challenges, area churches in Orchard, Ewing and Page have joined forces to create a thriving after school CCD program.
Five churches, including Orchard’s Cornerstone Bible Church, United Methodist Church and St. Peter Lutheran Church, the United Methodist Church in Page and St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Ewing, came together last fall to create one large CCD group.
“It’s neat how in small towns, you can come together - different denominations, whatever it may be,” Candice Hoke, CCD teacher, said. “We still socialized and did the music together and then we went to our own classrooms for the educational piece, so it’s just a win-win for everybody.”
The group is open for any preschooler through sixth grader, and meets every Wednesday after school for an hour and 15 minutes at the United Methodist Church in Orchard.
“All those kids go to school in Orchard,” Hoke said. “They just walk a block to the Methodist church. We have rotated someone different bringing snacks because they’re hungry after school, and then we have 15 minutes of music together and then we all go to our own classrooms to have the class,” Hoke said.
Hoke explained that the snack is “more than just milk and cookies.”
“It wasn’t really snacks, it was more like a meal,” Hoke said. “So, if they had a busy week, or for some, it was probably their supper.”
Hoke said that having snack and music before the class was a great way for the kids unwind after a school day before sitting through another class.
“It was just a good little meal and the music just seemed to be the perfect fit to make it the best use of our time and theirs,” she said. “They just participated better in class.”
Attendance for the program has been great, according to Hoke.
She said that for the Catholic church, only around six kids were in the CCD program. Now, the group always plans for around 40 kids every Wednesday.
“We just, all year, continued with as many as we started with, and maybe a few more,” Hoke said. “At the beginning, when things were new, fun and exciting, it’s good that people are involved, but I guess we took it as a positive that they kept coming and probably even had a few more in the end.”
She said that having the location only a block from the school helped attendance.
“It wasn’t easy for kids to say, ‘You know, I don’t want to go today.’ It was like, they got out of school and just started walking down the block,” Hoke said.
She said that not only was the location a plus for the group, but the facilities were also great.
“It’s got a great set up with the classrooms downstairs and the big lobby area up front, just very ideal to what we were doing,” Hoke said.
She also noted that the facility has a great speaker system with a big screen that was perfect for the 15 minutes of music.
Throughout the school year, moms and members of the various churches volunteered their time to bring snacks, lead activities or teach the classes.
“Kerry Wickersham and I teach the Catholic students,” Hoke said. “Amanda Shabram was very involved in organizing things there at the church. Kate Watson was often in charge of music.”
Hoke said they had a sign up sheet for volunteers.
“The first semester was filled before I even got to see it, and second semester, we barely had to pass it around before it was filled,” she said.
Others who have been instrumental in keeping the program thriving in its first year were Pastor A.G. Turner, Amanda and Jeff Shabram, Rita Shabram and Kate Watson, as well as the different moms that volunteer.
“It was just a real collaborative effort because I know we’ve all kind of struggled to find teachers or to get kids to come,” Hoke said. “It just worked.”