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Homeschoolers have many P.E. choices

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August Davison, 13, and Romey Navarette, 9, play Jail Ball at the Mason City YMCA on Thursday.

MASON CITY | Several organizations are making sure homeschoolers have plenty of extracurricular options. 

The Mason City YMCA is bustling Thursday mornings during a physical education class for all ages. 

The six-week session covers basic sports and activities like basketball, floor hockey and tag while incorporating leadership and team building for older students. 

"It gives kids a chance for somewhere to go," said Michelle Sorenson, health, wellness and sports coordinator. "Parents don't have to worry about meeting activity standards and it gives us a great opportunity to work with a population we don't normally see."

Sorenson currently has about 20 students enrolled ranging in ages 6 to 14. They are from Mason City and the surrounding area, with some traveling as far as from Osage. 

Daytime swimming lessons are also available. 

At Stebens Children's Theatre, Executive Director Tom Ballmer said homeschoolers are regularly involved in classes and productions. 

"What I really like about them is that they are always eager to work and get going," said Ballmer. 

Homeschoolers can take two-week workshops, at the end of which they'll put on a short show. They also have the opportunity to be part of regular productions, take tier classes in the afternoon and view plays during the school day. 

Of the 108 students in the program this year, Ballmer said about 25 of them are homeschooled. 

With current enrollment about 20 short compared to the past six years, Ballmer is eager for new recruits. 

"It's a great time to join Stebens, because we have a great season of plays to put on," he said.

Lime Creek offers educational opportunities for teachers and students alike. 

"We love to see kids get the chance to experience the Nature Center and the outdoors," said Conservation Education Manager Todd Von Ehwegen. 

Field trips and programs can be customized to accompany learning, such as bats, butterflies or insects. For older students, the Nature Center offers models on water quality, streams and urban/rural watersheds. 

In the winter, Von Ehwegen said groups can take advantage of snowshoeing and cross country skiing tours. 

There are a multitude of resources for teachers, such as a bird feeder webcam, accessible on Lime Creek's website, and educational learning trunks, which can be checked out for two weeks. 

Von Ehwegen said trunks cover subjects like wolves, raptors, prairies, woodlands and wetlands, offering hands-on items like skulls, furs, animal parts, books and visual materials. 


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