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This month’s features 5

How to choose?


Street smarts


Experts offer advice on what to look for in a preschool. Teach your children to be safe online and off.

Up for a challenge Odyssey of the Mind tests kids’ imaginations.


17 22 25

Back to basics How to help your student excel in major subjects.

Get outside Don’t let the cold keep you inside — take a hike.

Snow day fun 6 ideas to keep kids busy when the snow starts falling.

Cool school clubs From unicycles to crafts, students are invovled around WNC.

In every issue

On the cover

Day Tripper .....................30

Rylan Hite, by Amanda Prince Photography,

Kids’ Voices .....................26 Artist’s Muse ...................34 Home-School Happenings.36 Growing Together............38 F.E.A.S.T...........................40 Nature Center Notes ........43 Divorced Families ............44 Librarian’s Picks...............46 Story Times .....................47 Kids Page ........................55 Puzzles............................56 Calendar .........................57


.com Are you a member? Join the conversation, post photos and connect with other parents at Look for WNC Parent on Facebook and Twitter.

Beyond classrooms This fall, my son got involved in chess club at his school. Words cannot adequately describe how much he loves it. He would stay after school every day to play chess, he’s said. This got me to wondering about what other types of after-school clubs are offered around WNC. The variety of activities available to children is just amazing. From crafts to marksmanship, unicycling to running, our children have the chance to broaden their horizons outside the classroom. Our story on Page 13 highlights several of the offerings. One popular after-school club is Odyssey of the Mind. I’ve heard OM advisers talk about projects and competitions at my daughter’s middle school and have been blown away by the program. Learn more about OM on Page 10. With the calendar changing to a new year, it’s time for parents of toddlers and preschoolers to start thinking about finding a preschool for fall. In the story on Page 5, area preschool experts offer advice on what questions to ask as you start your search. The Asheville area is known for its outdoors opportunities. Why not take a family hike on a warmer winter day? Find five kid-friendly trails described on Page 22. I’m eager to try a few of them with my kids. When I was planning this issue, I started thinking about the snowstorms of the last two winters and decided the January edition should have a story on ideas for snowy days. You’ll find it on Page 25. I’m hoping we’ll get some good snow this month to make use of some of those suggestions. (That is, snow on a weekend that melts by Monday morning so the kids don’t miss any school.) So grab a cup of coffee or tee, curl up and dig into this issue about education, winter and more. Believe it or not, we’ll have summer on our minds by next month — look for the Overnight Camp Guide in our February issue. (Day camp listings will appear in March.) Until then, stay warm and enjoy winter!

P.O. Box 2090, Asheville, NC 28802 828-232-5845 | PRESIDENT AND PUBLISHER Randy Hammer WNC PARENT EDITOR Katie Wadington — 232-5829


ADVERTISING/CIRCULATION Tim (Bo) Head—232-5860, CALENDAR CONTENT Due by Jan. 10. E-mail ADVERTISING DEADLINE Advertising deadline for the February issue is Jan. 17.

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Preschool students listen to teacher Anna Perdue during circle time at the Mountain Area Child and Family Center in Asheville. Students, from left, are: Nina Yoosuf, Gavin Pomeroy, Lilly Luce, Christian Kern and Belen Evangelio Gaspar. JOHN FLETCHER/JFLETCHER@CITIZEN-TIMES.COM

Picking a preschool

Education experts offer tips for choosing the right place for your little one to start school By Pam J. Hecht WNC Parent contributor

For some kids, the first taste of formal education comes in preschool, two years or so before kindergarten. Finding just the right preschool takes a bit of work, but educators agree: It’s worth it. “Many times when children are around 3, they are thirsting for more social stimulation, their verbal skills are improving and they are becoming more willing to take social risks,” says Kate Donaldson, early childhood educa-

tion director for Shalom Children’s Center at the Jewish Community Center in Asheville. In preschool, they further develop “the building blocks needed for a successful transition to kindergarten,” along with skills they’ll need throughout life.

When to start

If children seem to be bored at home or need more social interaction, it could be time for a preschool program, says Ashley Parks,

LEARN MORE For more information, including a school visit checklist and subsized child care for income-eligible families, visit and Call Mountain Child Care Connections at 252-5955 for licensed preschools in your area and other information.

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child development specialist at Mountain Area Child and Family Center , which provides child care and education for children ages birth to 5 in East Asheville and Candler. Showing a heightened interest in school and asking questions about it is another sign, she adds. Katherine and David Paulus’ sons, Kaden, 5 and Dylan, 3, of Weaverville, both began preschool at Asheville Montessori School when they were 3. When they talked to the boys about schools and took them to visit the schools being considered, “they were excited about going and eager to start — it seemed like the right time,” Katherine Paulus says.

Explore your options

For a list of licensed schools in your area, look online, ask around and check with Mountain Child Care Connections, a regional referral service, says Pat Creighton, early education coordinator for Buncombe County’s Child Care Services Department. Consider the structure, schedule and type of program — some preschools incorporate religious values or focus on the arts or nature, while others like Montessori follow a particular educational approach. Creighton suggests parents visit at least three different schools, twice. Make an appointment with the director for the first visit, she says, then show up another day, unannounced, to make sure the school has an open door policy. When R.J. and Robin James, of Arden, visited the Mountain Area Children and Family Center, a staff member immediately came out and gave them an impromptu tour, R.J. James says. “It made us comfortable from the first moment.” Spend time observing “to assess whether or not you can see your child flourishing in the setting,” Donaldson says. “Ask specific questions that can’t always be answered on a website.” Bring your child along. If he or she makes a connection with the teacher and seems to enjoy the visit or wants to return, that’s a telling sign, Parks says. It may take awhile for your child to get comfortable, however, if he or she is shy, Creighton says. If you can’t tell from your child’s behavior whether the place is a good fit, rely on your gut feeling, she adds.

What to look for

While visiting, keep in mind that what looks appealing to an adult may not be


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Laney White, left, and Lorelei Dordelman enjoy center time play at Around the Son Preschool in Arden. The school's director, Dana McGraw, advises parents to check on the turnover rates of teachers when looking at preschools. SPECIAL TO WNC PARENT what’s important for a child, says Creighton. Focus on what is between the floor and 3 feet up, she says. Listen for happy sounds and pay attention to how the teachers and kids interact. Cathy Grist, Birth-Kindergarten Program director at Western Carolina University, suggests thinking about why you would like your child to go to preschool and what you hope your child will gain from it. “Ask questions to see if a program matches these goals,” she says. After getting recommendations from friends and visiting several schools in the area, the Pauluses chose Asheville Montessori for their sons. They liked the peaceful atmosphere at the school and noticed how well-behaved and respectful the kids were. “The children were actively engaged in works that had meaning — not just toys and games,” Katherine Paulus says. They also liked the fact that each classroom has multiple age groups so that older children can assist the younger ones, and the “discipline style matched what we do at home,” she adds. Jacque Penick, MACFC executive director, says parents should look for plenty

of hands-on, concrete materials like blocks and puzzles, rather than worksheets or coloring books and artwork that doesn’t all look the same. The class schedule should include a blend of different types of activities, both quiet and active, indoors and out, with opportunities for independent and small group work, she adds. The bulk of the day should be childdirected, with teachers facilitating rather than directing, and the school should be “committed to meeting the individual needs of each child,” Penick adds. Also, be sure to check for low staff turnover, teachers certified in early childhood education and employee background checks, says Dana McGraw, director at Around the Son Preschool in Arden, a Christian-based school.

Finding the right place

When finding a preschool to call home, consider the individual needs of your child, Grist says. For example, children who may need less stimulation and more individual attention do best in a smaller class with a lower teacher/child ratio. “Or, some programs may not include much art in their curriculum or as much


physical activity as a parent may know their child needs,” she says. When the James’ twin 3-year-olds, Charlie and Abbey, were toddlers, they attended what R.J. James calls “an old-school day care.” They wanted to find a preschool that was more “challenging and would prepare them for school,” he says. The Mountain Area Child and Family Center fit the bill for several reasons, James says. They were able to place them in separate classes, which was important because otherwise, Abbey “would do things” for her brother as she did at home, hindering him from learning on his own, he says. “They can go at their own pace in a program that accommodates all levels,” says James, who also liked the school’s woodsy playground in a natural setting . The school also provides nutritious snacks and lunch daily and has on-site specialists who offer extra support and services, he adds, which helped seal the deal. Pam J. Hecht is a freelance writer and editor based in Asheville. E-mail her at


Make your kids street smart

From strangers to social media, tips for keeping your children safe By Betty Lynne Leary WNC Parent contributor

It was every parent’s nightmare. A young Boy Scout in Utah became separated from his group and, in spite of intensive search-and-rescue efforts, couldn’t be found. Three days later, when the boy was finally located, he admitted that while he had heard rescuers calling his name, he remained hidden out of fear. He had been taught to never talk to strangers. “We need to move away from the stranger-danger concept,” says Robyn Michalove, deputy sheriff with Buncombe County’s Crime Prevention Unit. “When a child becomes lost or separated from a trusted adult, it is imperative that the child find another adult to help.”

‘Good’ strangers

Michalove suggests parents reassure children that not all strangers are bad and that it may become necessary to trust a stranger in times of trouble. “If separated from their trusted adult, kids should first seek out a person in uni-


form such as a policeman or security guard,” Michalove says. “If a uniformed officer can’t be found, a child should look for a female with children to approach for help or folks that look like grandparents.” If lost in a store, a child may also seek help from a clerk behind a counter. Another line of defense is to give children the skills to recognize and resist a predator. “Parents should role-play different situations and play the what-if game,” Michalove notes. “Even very young children can be taught to hone their intuition and speak freely with parents when someone makes them feel uncomfortable.” She adds that children should be taught to never keep secrets from their parents even when the predator threatens to harm the child or the parents if the secret is revealed. Some predators play on a child’s sympathetic nature to gain access. “Tell your children that adults never have to ask a child for help,” Michalove stresses. “If a stranger approaches asking for help, this is one instance when the child may be rude and disrespectful to an adult by not answering. Turn and run away to find a trusted adult.”

Dangers in homes

Seemingly innocuous situations like play dates and sleepovers may also pose

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potential threats. Before allowing your child to visit a friend’s home for any reason, ask if there are firearms in the house. Children must know never to touch a weapon and to leave the area and find an adult immediately. Also ask who will be in the house with the children. Other relatives may be present as could friends of older siblings. “Children should feel confident that at any time during a play date or sleepover, they may contact their parents to come pick them up if they feel uncomfortable,” Michalove says. “If parents have established trust with their child, a child will know that his feelings have validity and will openly share his misgivings.”

Raise awareness

Parents of tweens and teens must navigate the rough waters of kids who crave more freedom in an increasingly dangerous world. Sgt. Michael Lamb, with the Asheville Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division, says that his office sees a lot of victimization happen with older kids who are not aware of their surroundings. “Kids will go to a party with a seemingly good bunch of people, but word gets out about the party and other kids start to show up,” Lamb says. “That’s when you see larceny, burglary, and drug and alcohol abuse. Kids need to recognize what kind of activity is going on and leave the area if necessary.”

SAFETY TIPS FOR TEENS » Urge teens to use gender neutral screen names that don’t divulge identities or location. » Make your own social media profile and add your children as friends to communicate with them and monitor their online behavior. » Talk about the risks of posting personal information. » Set rules. Teens should know you have access to their pages at any time. » Examine their list of friends to make sure you know each one personally. Show how to block messages from people they don’t know. send photos electronically, Lamb urges parents to teach their kids that once a photo is in cyberspace, it’s there forever and there is no taking it back. Taking pictures with a cell phone can even lead a predator to a teen’s location. “If a teen takes pictures from a cell phone with the GPS turned on, the location

» Explain that high school officials, college admission offices and potential employers can view what they post.

Online facts » 34 percent of kids post their real names, telephone numbers and addresses » 45 percent post their age or date of birth » 70 percent of all online solicitations target young females » 71 perent of teens receive messages online from someone they don’t know Source: From the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

where the photo was taken can be tracked via the GPS,” explains Lamb. “If that location happens to be the teen’s home, a predator now knows where you live.” While teens often think they are invincible and nothing bad will happen to them, parents know better and can follow these rules for keeping teens safe.

Online safety

One of the biggest concerns today with teens is the widespread use of electronics to communicate and share information. Social media like Facebook and Twitter, texting on cell phones, and access to material via the Internet should all be on a parent’s radar. Lamb recommends keeping computers in the family room or other open space where parents can monitor what sites a teen visits. Parents should also have access, including passwords, to all social media sites. If the device is parent-provided, such as a cell phone or computer, a parent should have access at any time. “There are no safe forums,” Lamb notes. “Even a chat room on may pose a threat because people in those chat rooms try to lure kids to other private chat rooms.”

Cellphone caution

He stresses that teens should be taught never to reply to texts from anyone they don’t know, and never post personal information. And while most teens regularly



Madison Smith and Sam Phillips work on building a rubber band car as students from the Asheville Homeschool Co-op work on their Odyssey of the Mind competition projects at the Stephens-Lee Community Center. JOHN FLETCHER/JFLETCHER@CITIZEN-TIMES.COM

Odyssey of the Mind launches creative voyages By Paul Clark WNC Parent contributor

What plant would you not want in your house? An eggplant? A flowering plant? How about a power plant? That was one answer that Cassandra Love heard from home-schooled students taking part in the Odyssey of the Mind exercise recently.


Love smiles when she thinks of how mind-expanding “OM” is for the students who participate. An organizer of the Asheville Homeschool Co-op Odyssey of the Mind program, Love said the challenges that OM presents students with teach them to think in unconventional ways. As an example, she cites the experience of one home-schooled OM team member who, during weekly OM problem-solving

and team-building sessions, was having a hard time breaking out of her usual thought patterns. Stretched over time to think in different ways, however, she became more spontaneous and inventive. “Her answers became spectacularly creative,” Love said. “You could definitely see growth through practice.” That, in a nutshell, is what Odyssey of the Mind is — a way of expanding a stu-

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dent’s creativity through challenges that must be met immediately or over the long term, individually and as part of a team. OM, an educational program now more than 25 years old, is an international problem-solving competition among students from kindergarten to college. Teams apply their collective thinking to solving problems that include building mechanical devices and interpreting literary classics. Their work is presented locally, and winners go on to face other teams at the state and world levels. Thousands of schools from across the United States participate, as do those in 25 other countries. The training that students get through OM prepares them to meet challenges throughout their lives. Odyssey of the Mind stretches students’ thinking by having them create, evaluate, test and execute solutions to fit new sets of problems. In May, several Asheville-area teams competed in OM’s world finals, including Asheville Homeschool Co-op (in the problem category “Extreme Mousemobiles”), Valley Springs Middle School (“Unhinged Structure”), and Enka and Cane Creek middle schools (“Full Circle”). In each year’s competition, six new problems are developed for students to Continues on Page 12

From left, Noah Phillips, Ren Flaum, Sam Phillips and Madison Smith work together to create an entry for this year's Odyssey of the Mind competition. JOHN FLETCHER/JFLETCHER@CITIZEN-TIMES.COM



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solve and present creative solutions in a tournament setting. Here are three of the problems teams all over the world are working on this year: » “Ooh-Motional Vehicle”: Teams must design, build and drive a vehicle that will travel a course where it will encounter three different situations. The vehicle will display a different human emotion for each encounter, and one will cause it to travel in reverse. The team will create a theme for the presentation that incorporates the vehicle and the different emotions. » “To Be or Not To Be”: Teams will put a musical theater spin on one of William Shakespeare’s most famous lines, Hamlet’s oft-quoted line, “to be or not to be.” An original “Hamlet” character will face a team-created dilemma. Unlike Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the team’s character will discover that taking the easy way out was the wrong choice. Using elements of musical theater, teams will incorporate creative scene and costume changes, use of a trap door and a character that portrays Hamlet’s conscience. » “You Make the Call”: Using only balsa wood and glue, teams will design and build a structure that will balance and support as much weight as possible. The testing of the


structure will be presented in a performance that includes mathematics in its theme. To solve the problems, students draw upon what they’re being taught in school, skills that include computer technology, visual and language arts, mathematics, technical design, physics, music, literature, history and dance. Teams coached by a teacher or parent work on the problems over the course of weeks, often months. They are awarded for style, so that they learn not only to solve a problem but how to present solutions in appealing forms. At competitions, teams are also presented with problems to work out immediately, a demand that enhances teams’ ability to think quickly and cooperatively. Like OM teams in public schools, the home-schoolers with whom Love works pick one problem among the batch of new ones presented at the beginning of the school year. To make sure that OM is for them, the home-school students who chose to take part go through weekly problemsolving sessions together before they start work on their chosen project. (Quitting an OM team during official competition can leave other members in a bind, Love said.) The Asheville home-school team has been working on the “Ooh-Motional Vehi-

cle” project since November. It has built a few prototype vehicles to test out various ideas, ideas that came after a lot of brainstorming, said Solomon Love, Cassandra Love’s 11-year-old son. “We just threw out as many ideas as we could think of,” he said. “Brainstorming has always been fun for me because you can hear all these ideas and none of them are bad. You can hear the most bizarre ideas you heard in your entire life and end up using one of them.” “It was interesting hearing other people’s ideas,” said Noah Phillips, 12, participating with the home-school group for the first time this year. “The ones that most impressed me were the ones that I wouldn’t have been able to come up with myself.” Learning from others is part of what OM seeks to accomplish. “It’s incredible to me to see how their creative thinking expands,” Cassandra Love said. “They just learn to think about things in different ways.” Odyssey of the Mind is “fun because you get to hang out with all of your friends,” Solomon Love said. “And you can pick your role and what you end up doing. You can do the things you like to do, instead of being forced to do something you don’t like to do.”

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Ben Roland helps out at MANNA FoodBank, where Cane Creek Middle School's Caring Canes group volunteered recently. SPECIAL TO WNC PARENT

Cornucopia of clubs

Schools around WNC find unique ways to get kids engaged outside of the classroom By Betty Lynne Leary WNC Parent contributor

Instead of boarding the bus for home when the last bell rings, many students in both public and private schools stick around for creative, entertaining and even exhausting extensions to their academic day. After-school club opportunities exist at every grade level, and we’ve explored some of the more interesting offerings.

The Ultimate Game

Students at North Windy Ridge, an intermediate school of fifth- and sixthgraders, get together once a week to play the game of Ultimate. Sometimes called Ultimate Frisbee, the sport is gaining popularity worldwide. Two seven-player teams compete on a field, much like a football field, passing a plastic disc between players, without drops, to the opponent’s end zone for a score. “Our goal is to teach the students a fun game and allow them to play in a lowstress environment,” says Tom House, sixth-grade science and math teacher and sponsor of the club. “We teach them about fair play, not a win-at-all-cost kind of game.” House adds that students who have not had success in other team sports often thrive in the game of Ultimate. “My daughter Sophie had a great experience,” says Tami Swift, a North Windy Ridge parent. “She gained Frisbee skills, agility, endurance, teamwork and leader-


ship skills. She loved being able to play a co-ed sport with all of her friends and the members definitely developed a bond.”

Recycled Crafts

North Windy Ridge is also home to the Recycled Craft Club, which is open to any student and meets once a week during the school year. “The number one goal of our club is to have fun!” says Ann-Marie McBride, school social worker. “What better way to have fun than to do crafts with things people normally throw away?” Kids learn different crafting techniques like finger knitting or paper making, and use unusual and discarded materials. Opportunities abound for creativity without being constrained by conventionality and critique. “We think it’s important to teach kids to Continues on Page 14


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pay attention to what they would normally throw away,” explains McBride, “to look at it in a new light, and think creatively about making it into something both usable and beautiful!”

Marksmanship Club

The Marksmanship Club at Asheville Christian Academy sets its sights on high school students who can listen and follow directions exactly. There is zero room for error — for obvious reasons. Students learn the parts of a firearm and how it works along with the safe handling of weapons. The club meets during the spring semester twice a week and students learn to shoot accurately from various distances at different targets. “This is a level playing field for both male and female,” says Tim Patterson, middle school math and Bible teacher and club sponsor. “It develops discipline and concentration, and often the ladies do better than the men.” Patterson, who started the club three years ago, enjoys teaching the next generation about Second Amendment rights. “There is a satisfaction in seeing students grow in confidence and ability, especially those who have never been exposed to the use of a firearm,” he adds. Students earn one half of a PE credit from ACA and may earn a certificate of accuracy proficiency from the National Rifle Association.

Super Sleuths Club

Avery’s Creek Elementary teacher Patience Seigler loved reading mysteries as a child. And now she’s passing on her passion to second-graders in the Super


Asheville Christian Academy's Marksmanship Club practices at Asheville Rifle and Pistol Club. SPECIAL TO WNC PARENT

Sleuths Club. In its third year, the club attracts students who want to learn more about mysteries, how they are written, and how to write their very own story. “I absolutely love doing this,” says Seigler, club sponsor. “The joy of having kids come up to me who are so excited to find a new mystery to read. They’re excited to read, to write, and their confidence just grows.” Seigler brings in guests for their monthly meetings including crime scene technicians who talk about how to search for clues, mystery authors who speak about writing, and even a Buncombe County detective who writes clues for kids to solve a mystery. At the end of the year,

students pen their own mystery which Seigler binds into an anthology for the kids to keep.

Crafty Critters Club

Another crafty group of kids meets at Barnardsville Elementary once a month. The Crafty Critters Club is especially for kindergartners, first- and second-graders and gives these younger students the chance to be part of an after-school activity that encourages creativity and positive social interaction. “Most projects are holiday themed and easy for students to create independently,” says Kelli Wiedenhaupt, kindergarten teacher at Barnardsville. “Some of their

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favorite crafts are making marble paper, collages, and anything with glue!” Wiedenhaupt adds that students have the opportunity to work with different types of art tools and supplies while working on expressing individual creativity.

North Windy Ridge Ultimate Club gets together once a week to play. SPECIAL TO WNC PARENT

Mountain Bike Club

The Mountain Bike Club at Roberson High School won’t see much action during the worst winter weather, but members will be looking forward to hitting the trails at Bent Creek this spring. “It doesn’t matter how young or old,” says sponsor Megan Sanders, chemistry teacher at Roberson, “you can ride a bike at any age. It’s fun to do solo as well as in a group.” She notes that some of the students who organize the rides are learning helpful leadership and organizational skills. “The kids are learning to branch out and meet kids they normally don’t hang out with because of their common interest in riding,” Sanders adds. “And they’re enjoying a hobby they can stick with for life.”

Girls on Track

New at Enka Middle School this year is Girls on Track, the middle school version of the popular national program called

Girls on the Run. “We have between 20 and 30 girls come each week,” explains Debra Cheap, math teacher and club sponsor. Group workouts include running, skipping, jump roping, stretching, station work, and even belly dancing to keep the girls motivated. The group will be working on competing in a 5K race this spring.


Fairview Flyers One of Buncombe County’s most active and unique after-school groups is the Fairview Flyers. This dedicated group of fourth- and fifth-graders meets four mornings and one afternoon a week to hone their skills aboard their unicycles. Most do Continues on Page 16


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not know how to ride before joining the group but through much hard work, they reach both individual and team goals. “The kids learn responsibility, respect, teamwork, and how to work hard,” says Carolyn Cooper, head secretary and team coach for the past seven years. “They get to enjoy a team atmosphere without any competitiveness. We are not about winning but about giving the best performance we can.” The team performs throughout the South in parades and at high school, college, and professional basketball half time shows. “I really enjoy watching the kids grow, change, and mature through the process of being on this team,” Cooper notes. “Seeing a very reserved, shy child work hard and master the hardest tricks to become the center of attention in a performance is incredible.”

Poetry Club

Dawn Rookey, English teacher at Owen High School, has been sponsoring the poetry club for four years. Any high school student may join the group which meets twice a month. They participate in the National Poetry Out Loud Competition and the Asheville Arts Council Word Slam. “Students learn public speaking skills, writing skills, and an appreciation of the written and spoken word,” Rookey says. “And I get the opportunity to share what I love with the students!”

Caring Canes

A very special group of Cane Creek Middle School students is known as the Caring Canes. The group serves simply to help others in the community through a variety of projects. “Many children of this age want to help others but lack the means to do so,” explains Nicki Neumann, school counselor and one of the club’s sponsors. “They learn teamwork, about our community’s needs, and how people can make a difference in other’s lives.” This year’s projects have included collecting supplies for Brother Wolf Shelter, decorating Christmas trees for hospice patients, making cards for nursing home patients, and helping MANNA FoodBank sort and package food for needy families. “It’s very rewarding to see our students help others,” Neumann says. “We always have more ideas than we have time or money!”


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Getting back to basics Teachers offer tips for helping kids excel in math, reading, science and social studies By Angie Campbell Upstate Parent

Becky Phillips has probably seen it all when it comes to student achievement. The first-grade teacher has watched students struggle to grasp concepts and she has seen them excel in lessons. She has known children to suffer from low selfconfidence when facing academic tasks, and she has known them to take risks and solve problems without the fear of failure. Phillips has been an elementary school Continues on Page 18

Greenville-area teacher Mary Clater explains to her students the proper techniques of using a microscope. Clater believes children's curiosity makes them natural lovers of science. CINDY HOSEA/UPSTATE PARENT



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teacher for 36 years, teaching children in kindergarten through fourth grade at different schools during her career, and she still believes children are capable of amazing things. “I believe that each child is a unique individual with special gifts, talents and abilities,” she said. “My challenge as a teacher — and parents have the same challenge — is that each student learns differently.” But, Phillips said, that doesn’t mean every student can’t learn to excel in each of education’s four main areas of study — math, reading, science and social studies. She believes that lessons in one area can often strengthen skills learned in another. “In all of the subjects, parents need to be aware of what the year plan is for their child, and those long-range plans are presented to parents at open house at the beginning of the year,” she said. “Parents can use that knowledge to make a plan for special trips throughout the year to support the teacher’s syllabus. It really benefits children when parents help them to connect life experiences with what they’re learning in the classroom.” Whether reading, adding and subtract-


ing, or learning about history, there are things parents can do to help children achieve better grades and stay positive while learning skills in math, reading, science and social studies.

Social studies

Phillips, who teaches in Greenville, S.C. said lessons in social studies — perhaps more than any other subject — can benefit students when it comes to learning reading, math and science skills, too. Social studies provides parents with a terrific opportunity to let children see firsthand how something works or what something is, she said. “Parents are very fortunate here because we have so many resources in Greenville alone that children can go to that are free or cost only a little,” she said. “The zoo isn’t free, but that trip can be so beneficial to a child that has not been to a zoo before he studies animals in second grade.” Experience, she said, is a key learning tool for young students. Phillips said parents should try the following exercises to encourage and support their child’s studies in this unit: » Use dinner as a time to discuss family history, geography, the functions of gov-

ernment or places your child might have visited on a field trip. » Supervise children and allow them to watch videos on YouTube if family expenses don’t allow trips to places such as zoos or government buildings. » Draw diagrams and pictures to illustrate a family tree, map an area or show the functions of government.


Lisa Russell, who teaches first grade in Duncan, S.C., believes math doesn’t have to be as hard as many students — and their parents — fear it to be. She recommends that parents use “hands-on manipulatives,” or objects such as beans, candy corns or marbles, that can illustrate counting methods to younger students. “The problem is that, because students come out of kindergarten counting to 100, parents think their children know and understand all of those numbers when all the children have done is memorize them,” Russell said. “I tell my parents to go get some of those manipulatives and do what we call sweep away. That’s where you take one candy corn and pull it away to show one, two, three and so on. For kids a little bit higher, they can do the same thing with those manipulatives to illustrate adding and subtracting.” She said games, such as card games, can also be used to illustrate math concepts and numbers. She also suggested taking a yardstick and using clothes pins to count with it. “For example, tell them to touch 30 or count to 30 by moving the clothes pin along the yard stick,” Russell said. “With math, many children understand by sight rather than being told something.” She said the worst thing parents can do for children when it comes to math — or any other subject — is to complete problems for the children. “Parents should support them but not do it for them,” she said. “It’s not helpful at all.” Other ideas for helping students excel in math: » Phillips suggested purchasing Cuisenaire rods, which illustrate a variety of math concepts using colored strips of various lengths. The rods can be connected to illustrate addition and subtraction as well as fractions. » Reidville, S.C., teacher Marisa Neumann suggested letting children help prepare meals. Talk about what the measurements and the fractions in a recipe mean. Let them measure out ingredients to understand the differences. » Both Phillips and Neumann suggested

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allowing children to assist in grocery shopping. Ask them to make a list, tell them the prices and the amount available to spend and encourage them to come up with a budget. Instead of giving an allowance in dollar bills, use coins to encourage counting and adding and subtracting skills.


Neumann, who is a fourth-grade teacher, said students in elementary school must learn the basic concepts of reading and writing before they can advance to higher grades. Those lessons usually begin with reading. “Surround the kids with literacy,” she said. “Surround them with books. Let your kids see you read, and show that you value it yourself. Read to them each night and encourage them to read aloud.” She said a lot of children will claim they don’t like to read, but it’s most likely because they haven’t read a story on a subject that engages them. “Some boys like sports,” she said. “Find a baseball book. There are so many great novels that have a baseball player as a character. If the subject interests them, they might be more inclined to pick up a book, and that’s sometimes half the battle.” She said children love receiving library

cards of their own at the public library. “It’s exciting for them because it has their names on it and they can check out books on their own, which makes them feel very independent and gets them excited about reading,” she said. Children must eventually master vocabulary skills before they can learn to read on their own or write, and flash cards are a great tool for parents to use at home when teaching word association and pronunciation, Neumann said. Parents can also play word association games while driving or during dinner conversation. “A big one that just seems so simple is to talk to your kids,” she said. “You should also encourage them to sit down and write thank you notes to Grandma when they have a birthday or special occasion. Not only does it help with reading writing skills, it helps with manners too.” Other ideas for helping students excel in reading: » Russell said children are encouraged to enjoy reading when they read aloud to someone or something, such as a pet or stuffed animals. Similarly, parents can use hand puppets to engage children in story time when reading at bedtime. » Russell suggested parents encourage children to write down a word, such as


snowball, and see how many additional words the child can find within that word. » Phillips said she asks the parents in her classes not to allow their children see a movie that is based on a book until the book has been read first. “It’s fun for children to be able to compare the book and the movie afterward,” she said.


Mary Clater, a sixth-grade science teacher in Greenville, loves science and believes children are naturally inclined to like it, too. “Science comes natural to kids because they’re so curious and always asking ‘Why?’ about everything,” she said. “Science is about problem solving. The whole scientific method is that when you have a problem, you come up with a logical guess at what the best solution would be. If it doesn’t work after a trial, then you go back and change the variables. Including that problem solving in your home is not a bad approach.” Clater said science is best taught with a hand-on approach, and the more parents can expose their children to its lessons, the more they will learn in the subject. Continues on Page 20


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“You have to start your kids out with a good foundation on it,” she said. “When they’re really young, you should take every opportunity that comes along to point out how science is involved in it.” She said parents can discuss science topics, such as the weather, dinosaurs, animals and the earth to help encourage their children’s interest. “With science, both teachers and parents need to cheerlead the subject, because children do pick up on and adopt negativity,” Clater said. She said parents can also give science toys, such as microscopes and telescopes, as gifts for birthdays and other special occasions. “The more hands-on a child can be, the more he will want to learn about science,” she said. Other ideas for helping students excel in science: » Neumann said parents should applaud a child’s curiosity, especially when it comes to science. Do not be afraid to say you don’t know the answer. “It offers the opportunity to try to find out the answer together,” she said.


GENERAL STUDY TIPS It’s not uncommon for younger students — and especially those new to homework and tests — to struggle when it comes to studying at home. Elisa Mroz, a teacher at Spartanburg Montessori School, and Denise Lambert, a sixth-grade guidance counselor in Simpsonville, S.C., have a few tips that help parents to teach their children this basic and necessary skill. » Be organized. Make sure your child has everything he needs to prepare for assignments. Purchase binders, writing instruments and notebooks for notetaking, and teach your child how to organize his notes and homework by subject for easy retrieval, Mroz said. » Be aware of the teacher’s lessons. “You need to be aware of what’s going on in your child’s classroom as far as what the teacher’s procedures and expectations are,” Lambert said. “It’s

not that hard to get that information. Most teachers have websites, email and open houses.” » Read with your child every night, or play educational board games together. Mroz said these family activities encourage a love for learning and show children that parents also value learning. » Make studying a priority. Lambert encourages parents to supervise or assist with homework and make certain the child understands the consequences if it is not done. “Again, the key is to be an active participant in your studying,” Lambert said. “Some kids will sit there and stare at a book until study time is up, so parents need to follow through and make sure they’re really learning. Maybe a child needs to draw what he’s reading to learn it. Every child is different.”

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Do toddlers really need computers to learn? By Liz Szabo USA TODAY

Time was when all kids wanted for Christmas was to sit on Santa’s lap. Now, they may get a laptop. In the recent holiday season, a number of toymakers hoped to stuff babies’ stockings with kid-size computers, some targeting babies too young to talk — a trend that worries many parents and pediatricians. iPad-like options for kids include LeapFrog’s $99 LeapPad Explorer Tablet; VTech’s $80 InnoTab Learning App Tablet; and the $389 Vinci Touchscreen Mobile Learning Tablet. Vinci’s ads feature a cherub-cheeked baby — who looks only about 8 months old — mouthing the product’s rubbery handle. That earned the Vinci the honor of “worst toy of the year” at the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time — TV, computers or cellphones — for children under 2, and no more than two hours a day after that. “Parents are getting really ripped off,”

“The scary thing is that most of these claims are completely unsubstantiated. They prey on parents’ desires to do everything they possibly can for their children.” DIMITRI CHRISTAKIS, PEDIATRICIAN says the campaign's Susan Linn, who notes that babies learn more from cuddling with parents than from computers. “Children’s leisure time is really dominated by screens.” About 38 percent of kids ages 8 and younger have used a mobile device, such as a smartphone, video iPod or tablet, according to a survey by Common Sense Media. Breakdown by age: 10 percent of babies under 1; 39 percent ages 2-4 , and 52 percent of kids ages 5-8. Jody Sherman LeVos of LeapFrog says some parents look to supplement their


children’s education because of funding cuts to schools or to avoid a “summer brain drain.” “Sadly, American kids are falling really behind in math and science,” LeVos says. “A lot of preschools aren’t covering these topics adequately. But math skills at kindergarten entry are one of the strongest predicts of academic success.” Yet there’s no evidence that these products offer any benefit for kids under 2, says pediatrician Dimitri Christakis of the University of Washington in Seattle. “The concept of educational toys, of building brainier babies, is a relatively new phenomenon and has gathered a lot of traction,” Christakis says. “The scary thing is that most of these claims are completely unsubstantiated. They prey on parents’ desires to do everything they possibly can for their children.” Catherine Swanwick of Vienna, Va., wants her son, 3, to be comfortable with technology but says toddlers mesmerized by screens may miss out on other important pastimes. “I still think it’s important to be able to go outside and just play.”


Jacob Hanlon 6, enjoys a guided tour with ranger Clay Veasey at Paddy's Creek Trail in Lake Jame State Park near Nebo. Veasey is showing how a male deer has scraped a tree to mark its territory. JOHN COUTLAKIS/JCOUTLAKIS@CITIZEN-TIMES.COM

5 great winter hikes

Bundle up and take the family fun outside By Karen Chávez

As a child, Jennifer Pharr Davis thought hiking up Mount Pisgah was like climbing Mount Everest. “It seemed like the biggest mountain in the world,” said Davis, of Asheville, who just broke the overall Appalachian Trail thru-hiking speed record this summer. Returning to the iconic mountain trail south of Asheville as an adult, it doesn’t seem quite as monumental, Davis said, but it’s an example of how a trail that seems doable to grown-ups can be overwhelming


to children. To encourage a healthy love of the outdoors among kids — in any season — parents would do well to make outings fun, attention-grabbing, and bite-sized. Davis, who also just published “FiveStar Trails: Asheville,” a hiking guide of trails close to Asheville, recommends the 1.2-mile TRACK Trail, located near the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center. Running along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, the TRACK Trail is level, easy to follow and part of the Kids In Parks program, a collaboration between the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation to increase physical activity in children. Kids can register their hikes online ( and earn prizes. Davis also suggests Catawba Falls in McDowell County. The 3-mile roundtrip

hike is on relatively level terrain, passes several ruins before reaching an old dam and leads to Catawba Falls, which is often frozen in winter. “To me, it almost looks like an ice castle,” Davis said. “It’s a good hike to take kids on to show them a different side of nature in the winter.” Another great way to get children outdoors in winter is to let someone else show the way. Lake James State Park, about an hour east of Asheville, offers free rangerled nature programs throughout the year. Nora Coffey tries to come up with programs that will grab children’s attention. “I give an Animal Tracks and Signs hike and try to make it kid-friendly,” she said. “We start indoors, showing them bees nests, hummingbird nests, a piece of wood chewed up by carpenter ants, and then we

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go outside and look for these signs and tracks in the woods.” If you miss one of the programs, given on most Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year, take a trip to Lake James any time. Most trails in the state park, which sits at a lower elevation than Asheville and is often warmer in the winter, are short enough to be suitable for children, Coffey said. She recommends the Sandy Cliff Overlook trail, which starts at the “old” Catawba River Area and takes a quarter-mile hike to an overlook of the lake and Shortoff Mountain, and the Paddy’s Creek Loop Trail in the “new” area of the park. “There is a lot of holly on the trail, with the red berries, is nice, especially around Christmas,” she said. “There’s also a spur trail that goes to Paddy’s Creek, which kids love. And it’s relatively flat and wide enough for off-road strollers.” Combining digital technology with nature is another way to get children excited about playing outdoors in the winter. Jonathan Marchal, youth education coordinator at the N.C. Arboretum, has just the ticket — geocaching. This rapidly growing sport is sort of a sneaky way to get children excited about hiking. In this sport, people first access a website,, which gives GPS coordinates to millions of geocaches across

TIPS FOR SAFE HIKING WITH CHILDREN » Plan ahead. Scope out a trail’s length, difficulty and possible hazards by talking with rangers, reading trail guides and consulting maps. » Stay on well-marked trails. Do not venture off the trail. » Bring a map and compass and know how to use them. » Always let someone know where you plan to hike and when you plan to return. » Bring full-sized water bottles for children (rather than pint-sized) and extra snacks. the country. Then, using GPS units, they search through woods for these hidden caches, usually a plastic container that contains some small toy or trinket. “There’s something about geocaching. When kids are holding that digital, hand-held screen, all of a sudden, hiking is incredibly cool,” Marchal said. “It’s almost an inside link to another world.” The Arboretum has a special permit from


» Bring a first aid kit that includes ointment for insect bites. » Bring sunscreen, even in winter. » Bring extra layers of clothing, including raingear, and hats, mittens and socks. » Avoid cotton. When cotton gets wet, it stays wet and absorbs body heat, creating a risk for hypothermia. » Have children wear sturdy footwear with ankle support, not flip-flops or Crocs. Continues on Page 24

the U.S. Forest Service to house 10 geocaches on its property, which is part of the Bent Creek Experimental Forest, where geocaches are typically not allowed. Diamond Brand Outdoors donated 10 GPS units for visitors to borrow for free as part of a geocache packet, which includes a map and description of the caches. They are available at the Baker Exhibit Center whenever the building is open.


TRY THESE HIKES WITH CHILDREN » Catawba Falls Where: Pisgah National

Creek Area at Lake James State Park, McDowell County. Distance: 3/4 of a mile roundtrip loop. Interest for kids: Holly bushes with red berries, running cedar that grows along the ground, spur trail to Paddy’s Creek. Call the park at 584-7728.

Forest in McDowell County. Take I-40 east to Exit 73. Turn right on Catwba Falls Road and go 3 miles to the end. Distance: 3 miles roundtrip. Hiking time is about 1.5 hours. Interest for kids: Ruins along the trail, waterfall that often partially freezes in winter.

» Natural Garden Trail Where: North Carolina

» Parkway Visitor Center TRACK Trail Where: Start at the Blue

Ridge Parkway Visitor Center, Milepost 384 in Asheville. Distance: 1.5 miles roundtrip loop. Interest for kids: Trailhead brochures point out items of interest along the trail. Register hike online and work toward earning hiking prizes. Call the parkway at 271-4779 Ext. 246.


Take a 3-mile roundtrip hike to Catawba Falls in McDowell County near Old Fort and see ruins along the way. JOHN FLETCHER/JFLETCHER@CITIZEN-TIMES.COM

» Paddy’s Creek Loop Trail Where: Start at the Paddy’s

Arboretum off Brevard Road and at Milepost 393 off the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville. Distance: There are 10 miles of hiking trails in the Arboretum, but the Natural Garden Trail is 1 mile long. Interest for kids: Gently graded, natural surface trail is easy for children and it has interpretive signs along the way, connecting the Visitor Education Center and the

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Baker Exhibit Center. Call the Arboretum at 665-2492 or visit » Rattlesnake Lodge

Trail Where: Blue Ridge Parkway.

Start at the Mountains-toSea trailhead off Ox Creek Road, (drive to the second dirt pulloff on the right) accessible from Milepost 375 at Bull Gap. Distance. About 2.4 miles roundtrip. Interest for kids: The trail climbs over switchbacks, with great views of the mountains in winter. It winds up at the remains of Rattlesnake Lodge, a homesite of an Asheville doctor from the early 20th century. Building pool foundations remain. Call the parkway at 2985330.

6 ideas for a snowy day By Paul Clark

WNC Parent contributor

When snow starts to fall, young minds think up ways to have fun. Unlike being stuck inside on a rainy day, being out in the snow and fresh air banishes boredom and sets creativity free. And the cool thing about it is, kids don’t need much to have a good time. “You don’t need a lot of toys to have fun in the snow,” said John Taylor, owner of the three O.P. Taylor’s toy stores in the Asheville area. Snow, he said, is a great toy in and of itself. During a recent winter, he and his children made an igloo at their house in Brevard that was so neat that his son wanted to spend the night in it. Here are a few activities that will keep everyone entertained out in the snow. » Create your own town: Pull out that snow shovel and shovel pathways through the snow to connect whatever buildings you’d like to create. Shovel out a spot to be your house, then create one for the grocery store, your school, your friend’s house and the mall. Shovel little alleyways between them, then go visit your friends at their houses, or wherever they are (nothing beats the “mall” on a cold and snowy day!). » Make a snow fort: If the snowfall is wet and heavy, the next morning it should be solid enough to break into chunks. Create them with a shovel, or try scooping them up by burrowing your arms underneath the top layer and lifting up. You can also use the chunks by the road after the snowplow goes by (watch for traffic, though!). Stack the chunks in a circle or half circle, make a stash of snowballs and invite the family or neighbors in for a big snowball fight. » Build a snow angel “heaven”: Find a big, open space to create your snow angel scene. Lie down in the snow (make sure you’ve got on a hat and mittens!). Now, wave your arms up and down, and slide your legs in and out. Close your feet together and have a friend pull you up. Admire your pretty snow angel, then go create some more nearby so that you have a whole flock of them. » Play snowball tag and other games: To play tag, whoever is designated “it” has to hit someone with a snowball, then that person is “it.” Or try a tug of war in the snow — rally your partners and try to pull


Holley, left, Robbie, middle, and Ryan Holt make snow angels during the Christmas snow of 2010. CITIZEN-TIMES PHOTO the other side over a line drawn in the snow. Test your pitching arm by stacking six empty tin cans side by side and see who can knock the most down. Check out your snowball building expertise by seeing how big a snowball you and a buddy can build in 60 seconds (compete against another team, and have someone counting the seconds out loud). » Stir up some snow cream: Beat until


frothy 1 cup milk, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 cup sugar. Add enough fresh, clean snow to soak up the liquid. Eat up — it doesn’t keep or freeze. » Jump on a sled: As soon as snow is in the forecast, sales associates at the O.P. Taylor’s stores start selling sleds, Taylor said. The Flexible Flyer Trick 360 Molded Foam Slider is a pretty cool one that enables riders to spin ’round and ’round. The stores also sell saucer-style sleds, twoperson sleds and the old-fashioned sleds with runners. “Conditions have to be perfect to use one of those,” Taylor said of the last kind. In the past, the stores have sold snowball makers, but Taylor said you don’t need one of those to make good snowballs. The most fun you can have in the snow doesn’t come from the toys themselves (though a water balloon launcher will send a snowball into space). The fun is being out in it, playing with whatever’s at hand, he said. Paul Clark is a Weaverville-based freelance writer. Contact him at


kids’ voices

Predicting the future

Ever wonder what technology will be like in 2022? We posed that question to students in Christen Davidson, Julia Moore, Patricia Murillo and Khrista Noteboom’s classes at W.D. Williams Elementary School in Swannanoa, and here’s what they told us:


“There will be a solarpowered ship called the SS Clean that is covered in plants, and it will go over dirty water and clean it.” Reese Stoffo, 9

“There will be different TVs. Instead of seeing it on a screen it will be a hologram.” Yarely Garcia, 7

“Pencils will write for you.” Layla Castaneda-Ramirez, 10

“There will be a teleport device so we don’t have to walk or drive cars.” Austin Noland, 7

“There will be a car that runs on bubbles.” Megan Langlois, 9

“There will be flying cars and rocket ships. There will be robots to do our chores. Houses and signs will float. Rides will go into outer space, and our clothes will glow in the dark.” Owen Collett, 7

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“I hope someone will invent a cleaning robot that can help you clean the dishes, clothes and do the bed.” Yulisa Guevara-Alday-Ruis, 9

“I think there will be a motorcycle that runs on rocks, and it will never break down.” Isaiah Penisten, 8

“People might be flying around on jet packs.” Chase Charbonneau, 9


“I think there will be transforming cars that could transform into trucks. Life would be interesting.” Daniel Lannigan, 9

“There might be a diaper helper. All you have to do is press the brown button on the diaper helper, and there goes the diaper helper off to help change stinky diapers.” Macie Tremble, 9

“Maybe a robot delivering pizza. Think of it, a robot will come to your house and say, ‘Pizza delivered bip, bop, bip.’” Julien Swoap, 9


Kindergartners already on road to obesity, study finds By Jenifer Goodwin HealthDay

Today’s kindergartners are heavier than kids brought up in the 1970s and 1980s and appear to be on the road to becoming overweight and obese in the years to come, a new study finds. “It’s not just kids who are already overweight getting more and more so, there is an entire shift. Even those who are normal weight are gaining weight,” said lead study author Ashlesha Datar, senior economist at RAND Corp. in Santa Monica, Calif. Researchers analyzed data on nearly 6,000 white, black and Hispanic children who participated in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study — a nationally representative sample — and had their height and weight measured over nine years, in kindergarten, first, third, fifth and eighth grades. The study found nearly 40 percent of kindergartners had a body mass index (BMI) in the 75th percentile or above, up from 25 percent in the 1970s and 1980s, when the growth charts were developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While a BMI in the 75th percentile is still in the normal range, that child may be headed for being overweight or obese, Datar said. And if they’re already at the 75th percentile in kindergarten, they don’t have far to go before they tip into the overweight or obese category, which puts them at risk of serious health problems as adults. Traditionally, a BMI in the 85th to 95th percentile is considered overweight, while above the 95th percentile is obese. The number of kids at the top of the scale has swelled too. About 28 percent of kids from the current sample had a BMI in the 85th to 95th percentiles, compared with 10 percent of earlier generations, while 12 percent had a BMI above the 95th percentile, compared with 5 percent of the earlier group of kids. Gains in BMI were most striking among Hispanic children and black girls,


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according to the study, published in the December issue of Pediatrics. Percentile measures how a child stacks up to others his age. So, a child in the 75th percentile for weight is presumably heavier than 75 percent of other children his age, since children are compared to one another. Therefore, by definition, 25 percent of kids should be in that category. But with so many kids heavier then they used to be, the old weight distributions may not hold up, Datar said. There were also fewer kids at the lower end of the weight spectrum. About 14 percent were in the lowest fourth for weight compared with 25 percent in earlier generations and 18 percent were in the second lower quartile compared with 25 percent in earlier generations. The weight gain accelerated between kindergarten and third grade. The proportion of kids in the top quartile (75th percentile or above) was almost 48 percent by third grade, but weight gain leveled off after that. Experts said the findings show that to make an impact on skyrocketing childhood obesity rates, programs to encourage better eating habits and more physical activity have to start very early, possibly even in preschool. Those programs also need to include kids who are normal weight. “If you find your child is in the 75th percentile, it should be warning to you that your child is at higher risk of being an obese adult, and you need to start thinking about what your family is doing as far as eating habits, food intake and exercise,” Datar said. The reasons that America’s kids are getting heavier overall aren’t fully understood, but there are many possibilities, said Dr. Albert Rocchini, a professor of pediatrics at University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. These include the ready availability and convenience of high-fat, high-sugar and highly caloric snack and processed foods and less physical activity because of video games, TV and less outdoor play time. “This study reinforces what people are noticing, and it's a little discouraging,” said Rocchini. “The incidence of obesity is going up because everybody is getting heavier,” he said. For health reasons, it’s important to get a child’s weight gain under control, he added. A study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that obese children who became obese adults were at much higher risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and atherosclerosis.




Spend the day in Cherokee

Symbols of the Cherokee tribe, such as this mask, are on display at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. SPECIAL TO WNC PARENT

By Mike McWilliams WNC Parent contributor

No one is exactly sure how long the Cherokee have called Western North Carolina home. Artifacts unearthed show there have been people living here as long as 11,000 years ago. Today, the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians is a sovereign nation of 100 square miles, with more than 13,000 enrolled members. Six family things you’ve got to see: » Great Smoky Mountains National Park: The main N.C. entrance to America’s most visited national park is in Cherokee. Take a hike or leisurely drive through the park and take in some of the most breathtaking views WNC has to offer. The Oconoluftee Visitor Center, 2 miles inside the park entrance on U.S. 441, offers interactive displays and a shop. It’s open every day but Christmas. Several roads close during the winter, including the road to Clingmans Dome. For general information and specific road closures, visit » Museum of the Cherokee Indian: The museum tells the story of the Cherokee people through high-tech displays and an extensive artifact collection. » Cherokee Bear Zoo and Exotic Animals: In additional to black bears, get an up-close look at many animals, including grizzlies, tigers and monkeys. » Smoky Mountain Gold and Ruby Mine: What kid doesn’t like finding treasures in the dirt? You could strike it rich here on gems, including rubies, amethysts, emeralds and other jewels. » Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual Inc.:


Stop at the new Oconaluftee Visitor Center on your way into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just inside the Cherokee entrance. JOHN FLETCHER/JFLETCHER@CITIZEN-TIMES.COM Founded in 1946, this is the oldest Native American arts cooperative in the United States. A variety of authentic handmade Native American crafts are available to buy. » Oconoluftee Indian Village: Learn how the Cherokee used to live as you walk through this replica village and watch craft and dance demonstrations. The village typically opens in May and closes in the fall. Visit Best time to visit: Although Cherokee fills up on the weekends, any day of the week is a good day to visit. A good place to eat: Cherokee has everything from fast food, to buffets to fine dining. A few examples include: Little Princess Restaurant and Shop, 1681 Acquo-

ni Road, which features a menu and a buffet featuring Southern fare; Country Boy Barbecue, 1659 Painttown Road; and Granny’s Kitchen, 1098 Painttown Road. Along the way: You can take a detour through Waynesville or Maggie Valley, home to Wheels Through Time, the world’s premier collection of rare vintage motorcycles. Getting there: Cherokee is about an hour and 15 minutes away from downtown Asheville. To get there, take Interstate 40 west toward Waynesville. Take a slight right on U.S. 74 West/Great Smoky Mountains Expressway. After about 33 miles, merge onto U.S. 441 north. Four miles later, turn right at Old No. 4 Road and continue onto U.S. 19 South to Cherokee.

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the artist’s muse

Reflect on 2011 with a

visual journal

By Ginger Huebner WNC Parent columnist

Pull out photos from 2011 to refresh your memory on events that occurred through the year.

Happy New Year! As a mom of young children embracing a new year — sure to be full of adventures, hopes and dreams — I cherish the combination of reflecting on the year that is now behind us, as well as the excitement about all that is ahead. I think it is a great opportunity to look back with your children and create a visual documentation that includes all that happened in your child’s life on personal,

familial, communal and global levels. A visual journal is a simple, creative way to capture your child’s reflections and dreams. By going beyond slipping photos into an album and encouraging them to use their own drawings, objects, photos and collages, your child can artistically document what they anticipate for the year ahead and what they will remember from the previous year. It may be helpful to have your 2011 calendar and/or photos on hand to help you and your children remember specific events and moments from the year. There are many different options for structures of the journal itself: 1. Use separate pieces of paper that you will then bind with clips or staples after they are complete. 2. Use an old book or magazine as a base structure. In this case, the children could glue images directly onto the existing pages of the book or magazine, and they could also paint some of the pages with white or black gesso to create a blank

An artist uses stamps and ink to create a page for January. PHOTOS SPECIAL TO WNC PARENT


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Another artist uses white gesso to paint over the pages of a magazine so he can then use those pages to draw and collage his own images. SPECIAL TO WNC PARENT page on which they can draw or paint. 3. They could also just make a blank book first, using a simple stitch binding, and then fill the pages with drawings, objects and collages. Use one page or each set of facing pages to represent one month of time. As you talk about and view photos of what happened in January 2011, the children can draw, paint, stamp, collage imagery into their book structure. It can be a project you finish in one sitting, or something you come back to over a few days or weeks. The process of making the journal is a unique, creative experience to share with your children. Both you and your children will cherish the journal as a special handmade object representative of both reflections and dreams. Blessings as this New Year unfolds for each of your families. Ginger Huebner is the director of Roots + Wings School of Art, which offers visual art classes for all ages. Contact her at or visit



home-school happenings

Socialization is unneccsary By Nicole McKeon WNC Parent columnist

Socialization. Ugh. At the risk of sounding intolerant, I am going to make a statement loud and clear, here and now: Socialization is a fable. It’s a myth. A fantastical horror story created by someone to scare you away from home-schooling your kids. I think socialization should be placed in the same incinerator where I would place standardized testing and politically correct textbooks. And let it burn, baby, let it burn. Let me give you a hypothetical, OK? Imagine a world where the only people you were allowed to “socialize” with were


other adults your same age. How many of your current friends would be eliminated from your social circle? Now, imagine that you are forced to spend most of your day “not talking” to each other. And imagine that anything that made you stand out from the crowd was reason for ridicule. How’s this socialization working for you so far? This is a description of the “normal socialization” your home-schooled child will be missing out on, when you decide to leave traditional school. Let’s face it, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Human beings are not wild animals who need to be “socialized.” And even if we were, wouldn’t we desire that socialization to take place in a family setting? And, human beings are all wired completely differently from each other. What feels like too much alone time to one per-

Human beings are not wild animals who need to be “socialized.” And even if we were, wouldn’t we desire that socialization to take place in a family setting?

son may feel just perfect to another. So, I am pretty sure it’s safe to say that there is not one road to “healthy social interaction” for human beings. That being said, it follows that home-schooling may be the single best way to allow your child to develop socially in the way he/she organically should.

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Home-schooling removes the pressure cooker atmosphere of “forced socialization” and allows kids to reach out to others who appeal to them for any number of reasons. It’s really a beautiful thing to watch a group of home-schooled kids play together. Why? Because there is very rarely any ageism. My 6-year-old is just as comfortable playing with a 13-year-old, as he is playing with a younger child. In fact, because he has never been to school, age is never even a consideration in his choice of friends. He just chooses his friends based on mutual interests, kindness and the “he’s fun” factor. Isn’t that how adults do it? Why should we assume that it would or should be any different for children or teens? My husband is my best friend. He was my best friend long before he was my husband. My husband is 13 years older than I am. If we had been in school together, well, I was in kindergarten and he was a senior, so that wouldn’t have worked. But, in addition to our age difference, our gender difference may have also limited our ability to develop a friendship. The seems to be especially true during the teen years, when, because of our overly commercialized and sexualized society,

girl-boy friendships are almost always portrayed as a “relationship” — as if it is impossible for men and women to be friends. I am happy to say that my daughter has two BFFs, one male, one female, one home-schooled and one in public school. These kids chose each other. They totally get each other. They are better friends than any I ever had when I was in school. It makes my heart happy to see (and hear, since they spend hours on the phone and Skype). Socialization should not scare you away from home-schooling. Parenting never stops. It didn’t stop when you helped your child learn to go on the potty, it didn’t stop when you taught him to tie his shoes, or you taught her to read, and it won’t stop when you send him to school or choose not to. How and with whom your child chooses to create relationships will be largely a reflection of his/her personal needs and desires. Home-schooling allows them the freedom to do so in their own way, and in their own time. Nicole McKeon is a home-schooling mom and owner of Homeschool Station in Fairview. Email her at



growing together

Learning never ends By Chris Worthy WNC Parent columnist

A teacher’s influence doesn’t end when the bell rings. In the case of my college professors, it didn’t end when I walked across the stage to get my diploma or even when I got married and had children. I earned my undergraduate degree just over 24 years ago. Scary, isn’t it? It seems like yesterday and now my oldest child is a college freshman. A lifetime later, I feel privileged to count two of my former teachers among my friends. One is a noted historian, and though 40 years my senior, I am confident if we went head to head in any “Jeopardy” category, he would beat me like a three egg white omelet. Joe Stukes is far more than an expert on times past. His intellect and continued pursuit of knowledge inspire me. Learning from him has been one of the great joys in my life. We are both lifelong students, but he is forever my teacher. I still want to be him when I grow up. Don Stewart was in his first semester in a college classroom when I entered his freshman writing class as a totally wetbehind-the-ears, 15-year-old (not a typo) student. He had already spent years as an award-winning reporter when he changed careers. I had no notions of being a writer then. Honestly, I took freshman composition because it was required. But after a handful of assignments, he encouraged me to write more. “You know, you’re good at this,” he told me. I had never heard that before. Though he was only my teacher for one


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Learning from Joe Stukes has been one of the great joys in my life. We are both lifelong students, but he is forever my teacher. I still want to be him when I grow up

class in one semester, Mr. Stewart continued his encouragement. He was a quiet, serious cheerleader who saw writing as a gift, a talent to be honed and shared. Years later, my own plans fell away, replaced by new ones beyond my wildest imagination. Even while I practiced law, I had begun writing for myself. It became a secret joy, to stir around ideas and let them fall on paper as a new creation. But to be a writer? I was a lawyer. I wasn’t sure writing was even a real job. Yes, my mind is a little less narrow now. When opportunity knocked, I called the first person who ever told me I could write. Mr. Stewart read my work, critiqued it as if he would be entering the results in a grade book and then told me to keep going. “You have something I can’t teach,” he would tell me more than once over the years. I am confident that was a wild exaggeration, but his words gave me the fuel to persevere. As I learned a new career on the fly, he cheered me on, celebrating each byline like a Pulitzer Prize. Mr. Stewart passed away recently. I know his family’s loss is far greater, but I was left with the selfish notion that my mentor was gone. And I realized I still have so much left to learn. If I paid for my education by the hour, my alma mater would be sending a bill for an endowment large enough to have buildings named after me. Thankfully, they haven’t caught on to that yet. I intend to be a student — and hopefully, a teacher — until my last breath, and I have been so blessed by those who encourage that with passion and enthusiasm. May life be our classroom. Chris Worthy is an attorney who took down her shingle to be a stay-at-home mom. Contact her at



Lighten up your recipes By Kate Justen WNC Parent contributor

So you have made it through the holidays and into 2012. It is such a great time to get into new routines and set your New Year’s resolutions. Exercise, get organized, save money, manage stress and, of course, eat better. After the holiday feasting, most of us feel like we need to lower our fat and sugar intake. It is time to get back on track! We cut out all desserts, cheese, creamy dressings, burgers, fries, ice cream. I could go on. Here I am thinking about all of the foods I just said I would give up in the new year. Who am I kidding? I am not going to give all of that up. Instead, I can just change some of those things to fit into my new 2012 healthy lifestyle. During the FEAST classes, we have taken a few of the high-fat favorites and changed them up a bit to make them healthier but still tasty. The most important thing to remember when cooking is that the food should taste good to you. There is a lot of room within a recipe to make substitutions or change the amount of seasoning you add so it fits your tastes. Cilantro is a good example: Some people love it and others think it tastes like soap. You can either double the amount or omit it completely and add a different herb you love. Get your kids involved by using a blender, food processor or food chopper, or by having them tear herbs and veggies. Kids of all ages love to wash veggies, measure and mix. When kids are mixing, remind them that slower is better — or you may end up with dressing in your hair. It is always a good idea to let kids taste the raw vegetables while preparing food if they show interest. The more kids are involved in the preparation of the meal the more interest they will show in eating it. Kate Justen is the program director of FEAST — Fresh Easy Affordable Sustainable Tasty, a program of Slow Food Asheville. Contact her at or visit


Alfredo sauce with chicken and vegetables over pasta is a simple, well-balanced meal that kids can help prepare. KATE JUSTEN/SPECIAL TO WNC PARENT

Chicken and vegetable alfredo 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast 1 head broccoli 4 green onions 8 mushrooms 1 large handful green beans 2 tablespoons butter 3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced 2 tablespoons flour Dash of pepper 1 1/2 cups low-fat milk 1/2 cup parmesan cheese 1 pound of pasta

Cut chicken into strips and sauté with 1 tablespoon of olive oil until no longer pink. Wipe out the pan to remove any fat. Chop vegetables and sauté them in pan used to cook the chicken over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil until soft. Return chicken to pan after vegetables are ready. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in garlic, pepper and flour until evenly combined. Stir in milk all at once, cook and stir until bubbly. Add parmesan cheese; stir until cheese is melted. Add sauce to chicken and vegetables, then serve over pasta.

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Homemade “ranch” dip Traditional ranch dressing is notable for its high fat content. A 2tablespoon serving has 15 grams of fat.

2 tablespoons vinegar 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt 1/8 teaspoon salt 1 clove garlic, crushed 3 tablespoons minced fresh herbs; parsley, oregano, basil, cilantro, dill

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl, let sit for at least 1 hour before serving.

Easy enchiladas 1 package corn or whole wheat tortillas (about 10-15, depending on size) 1/2 pound cooked chicken, beef, pork or crumbled tofu 1 tablespoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon chili powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 clove crushed garlic 1 can pinto or black beans 2-4 cups chopped veggies (zucchini, corn, peppers, spinach, kale, mushrooms‌) 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 1 cup crushed tortilla chips (use what is left in the bottom of a bag) 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro Sauce: 1 can tomato sauce (or 2 cups frozen tomato puree from your garden) 2 cloves garlic 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (or more if you like it spicy)

Thoroughly cook meat of your choice and drain excess fat. If using tofu, it works best to freeze it first, thaw and squeeze out extra water. Season meat or tofu with cumin, chili powder, salt and garlic. Add chopped veggies to the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Add beans to mixture. In a 9-by-13 pan, layer tortillas, veggie mixture and cheese like a lasagna beginning and ending with tortillas. Keep 1/2 cup of cheese for top. Pour sauce over the top, cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover and add chips, remaining cheese and cilantro. Bake uncovered for additional 10 minutes.




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nature center notes

Animals have their own social media By Jill Sharp Special to WNC Parent

Imagine this status from Facebook user Black Bear: “Still sleeping — see you in spring!” Or maybe this Twitter from River Otter: “Pond is frozen! Great for sliding!” Of course, animals can’t really put human technology to use, but they don’t need to. Species have their own “technology” that allows them to communicate just as efficiently as any text message. Wolf howls carry up to 10 miles. The flash of a white deer tail signals danger. The powerful musk of a red fox marks his territory and attracts a mate. Bright colors, strange sounds and distinctive aromas are common animal technology for getting the message across. When you visit the WNC Nature Center, take a look at each animal and see if you can figure out what their “social network” involves. Imagine what the hollow scales on the tip of the rattlesnake’s tail might sound like when shaken together. Look at the way each grey wolf carries his tail, ears, and head and try to guess what that posture might mean. Watch the dark tip of the cougars’ tails as they twitch and flick. And everyone knows what the white stripes on the black coat of a skunk means — stay back, or you’ll be sorry! The WNC Nature Center also talks through technology. Visit our newest interpretive at the cougar habitat to watch the video about their journey from Oregon to North Carolina. Listen as our curators talk about cougar diet, enrichment, and growth. Learn more about our animals in our blog at Like us on Facebook to check out photos, and for those who get the message in 140 words or less, follow us on Twitter. Learn more about wildlife found in WNC at the WNC Nature Center, 75 Gashes Creek Road, Asheville, and



divorced families

Bullying shouldn’t be tolerated By Trip Woodard WNC Parent columnist

One reality of school life that can affect children of both intact and divorced families is bullying. I can speak from both clinical and personal experience; both my son and I have ourselves been victims of bullies. In my situation, I had an advanced biology teacher named Ms. Goss who said, “Dahlins, I better not catch anyone bullying anyone else in my classroom” as part of her class introduction. Later, as two older students decided to make me a regular target for verbal abuse, I took her at her word and went to her for help. She didn’t do anything and nothing changed. In a way, that reality was worse than the actual bullying experience. I was shocked when history repeated itself, and I found that my son was the target of much more intense bullying at his school. In that situation, his mother and I contacted and collaborated with the middle school’s staff, who took the complaints seriously and effectively terminated the bullying behavior and provided great support for my son. I will never forget that and am always grateful when school officials post and follow a zero-tolerance policy for bullies. On a national scale, bullying behavior has been linked to higher rates of teen suicide and increased violence in general. We live in a post-Columbine world that has impacted the policies of many schools about the dangerous potential outcome from ignoring bullies. Types of bullying include physical, emotional and cyber bullying. Examples of physical bullying can be hitting, kicking, poking and or pushing. Alert bullies will do this when they are without adult supervision with the agenda


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of baiting the victim into retaliating and becoming the one who is subsequently punished. Emotional bullying can be repeated name-calling (again out of the earshot of an adult) or exclusions from activities (i.e., “I don’t want to play with her, she wears funny clothes”). Cyber bullying can be vicious attacks made through text messaging; IMs, blogs, or messages placed on Facebook or MySpace accounts. Signs of bullying may include your child acting depressed (poor eating and/or sleeping at home), having somatic complaints like stomachaches or headaches, showing decreased academic performance, exhibiting signs of anxiety, having unexplained bruising and/or being afraid of going to school. Should any of these signs be evident or if your child directly discloses to you that they are having a problem with bullies, here are a few ideas on what you can do: » Don’t panic. Calm yourself down before talking to your child. Reassure your child that this is not his or her fault and that it is something that you need to work on together. Let them know that this is not a problem they can solve on their own. Try to get as much information as you can as to the what, where, when and who of the bullying behavior. » Do not tell your child to strike back or just ignore the taunts. This simply does not work in today’s world. » Call for a conference with the school. Try to include the school counselor, the vice principal and appropriate teachers. Share your information and get a clear plan as to what the school is going to do next. There should be a multifaceted approach to terminating the bullying behavior (referral to a therapist, school disciplinary measures and heightened supervision of the bullies) and adequate protection/support for your child. This latter part is critical because your child will rapidly learn from what adults do and not say about the situation. Your follow-up on these plans and monitoring of results will be extremely important. It all comes down to whether our children believe they can trust the educational system now and in the future to be a safe place where they can grow and learn. And maybe getting the message that when they feel helpless, there are options in life. Did you hear that, Ms.Goss? Trip Woodard is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a clinical member of the N.C. Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Contact him at 606-8607.



librarian’s pick

One egg’s colorful adventure

Jennifer Prince

WNC Parent columnist

In her debut book, “Roly-Poly Egg,” author and illustrator Kali Stileman shines. It is a first-rate children’s picture book, one that preschoolers will request again and again. Every aspect of this book is designed to appeal to very young children: bright colors, animal characters and a straightforward, engaging storyline. With a simplicity and enthusiasm that mirrors that of her intended audience, Stileman tells the story of Splotch, a small bird that lays an egg that is “small — yes, spotty — yes, and absolutely perfect in

every way!” Thrilled with the appearance of her rainbow-freckled egg, Splotch jumps up and down in glee. Splotch’s movement causes the branch she is on to shake. The egg rolls down from the branch and into a wide world of adventure! The egg’s movements are depicted with a gray dotted line. Children will enjoy following the line with their finger, watching as the line shows every dip, swirl, and bounce that the egg makes. First, the egg slides down Jemima Giraffe’s neck, then somersaults from one exuberant two-page spread to another. Each spread features a different animal that propels the egg along on its journey: zebras that kick, the elephant that sprays water with her trunk, and the monkeys that like to play catch.

Stileman introduces just a bit of suspense with the appearance of openmouthed, but slightly comical Christopher Crocodile. As children trace the egg’s journey, they will delight in finding the pink butterfly that appears on every page. Then at last, the egg winds its way back to the eager Splotch. With a nod to the art of Eric Carle, Stileman’s illustrations are composed of shaped pieces of patterned paper and bright streaks of paint. Indeed, Splotch herself is a wide knot of orange paint squiggles. Her yellow triangle beak and black and white dot eyes express every bit of her love and solicitude for her egg. Her egg is blue and features dozens of dots, each a different lively color. The colors and shapes stand out all the more because of Stileman’s liberal use of white space. The highlight of the book is a pictorial delight. As soon as the egg makes its way back to Splotch, it begins to crack. Stileman shows the egg cracking in stages. At each stage, the egg is shown as sort of big, then big, then bigger. The crack gets bigger progressively, too. Finally, the egg takes up an entire page. The crack is engineered into the page as two fold-out pieces. The reader folds the pieces of egg shell back as if to aid in the hatching. Inside the “shell” is a blue squiggled baby bird covered in colorful dots. Of course, the baby bird is “small — yes, spotty — yes, and absolutely perfect in every way!” “Roly-Poly Egg” is great for one-on-one sharing and for sharing in a group setting. This book is available in the Buncombe County Public Libraries. To learn more, visit


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area story times Buncombe County Libraries

Black Mountain, 250-4756 Preschool: 10:30 a.m. Wednesday; Mother Goose: 11:30 a.m. Tuesday; Toddler: 10:30 a.m. Thursday East Asheville, 250-4738 Preschool: 11 a.m. Wednesday and Saturday Enka-Candler, 250-4758 Preschool: 10:30 a.m. Wednesday Toddler: 10:30 a.m. Thursday Fairview, 250-6484 Preschool: 10:30 a.m. Thursday Leicester, 250-6480 Mother Goose: 11:30 a.m. Tuesday Preschool: 10:30 a.m. Wednesday North Asheville, 250-4752 School Age: 3:15 p.m. Thursday Preschool: 11 a.m. Wednesday Toddler: 10 a.m. Wednesday Oakley/South Asheville, 250-4754 Mother Goose: 11 a.m. Thursday; Toddler: 11 a.m. Wednesday; Preschool: 10 a.m. Wednesday Pack Memorial Library, 250-4700 Preschool: 10:30 a.m. Mondays; Mother Goose: 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays; Toddler: 10:30 a.m. Thursdays; School Age: 3:30 p.m. Wednesdays Skyland/South Buncombe, 250-6488 Preschool: 10:30 a.m. Thursday Toddler: 10:30 a.m. Wednesday Swannanoa, 250-6486 Preschool: 11 a.m. Thursday Toddler: 10 a.m. Thursday Weaverville, 250-6482 Mother Goose: 11 a.m. Wednesday; Toddler: 11 a.m. Thursday; Preschool: 11 a.m. Tuesday West Asheville, 250-4750 Mother Goose: 11 a.m. Monday Toddler: 11 a.m. Wednesday Preschool: 11 a.m. Thursday

Haywood County Public Library

Waynesville, 356-2512 or 356-2511 Baby Rhyme Time: 9:30 a.m. Mondays; Ready 4 Learning: 11 a.m. Tuesdays; Family story time: 11 a.m. Wednesdays; Movers and Shakers: 11 a.m. Thursdays Canton, 648-2924 Family story time: 11 a.m. Tuesdays Rompin’ Stompin’ Story Time: 10 a.m. Thursdays

Henderson County Public Library

Main, 697-4725 Bouncing Babies: 11 a.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays Toddler Time: 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays Preschool: 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays 4 O’Clock Craft Club: 4 p.m. Thursdays Edneyville, 685-0110 Family: 10 a.m. Mondays Etowah, 891-6577 Family: 11 a.m. Tuesdays Fletcher, 687-1218 Toddler Time: 10 a.m. Wednesdays Preschool: 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays Bouncing Babies: 11:15 a.m. Wednesdays Green River, 697-4969 Family: 10 a.m. Thursdays Mills River, 890-1850 Familiy: 10 a.m. Mondays



Serve up variety for Super Bowl By Jennifer Justus The Tennessean

If Super Bowl parties had a playbook, surely food would get its own chapter. This year, try a progressive dinner that happens from the comfort of your sofa. For appetizers, try chili canapes. Bake four potatoes, let them cool and slice them into quarter-inch rounds. Scoop out a bit of flesh and add a small scoop of prepared chili. Then top it with cheese, red onion and sour cream.

Chocolate chips 2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for the baking sheet 5 cups thick-cut potato chips 1 cup sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or white vinegar 5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet Mexican chocolate, finely chopped

Line a baking sheet with foil. Butter the foil. Set aside 1 cup of potato chips. Break the remaining 4 cups of chips in half if they're large. Combine butter, sugar, vanilla and vinegar in a saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is light amber and a candy thermometer registers 320 degrees, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the 4 cups of chips. Immediately pour the mixture onto the baking sheet and spread in a thin layer. Gently press the reserved cup of chips on top of the toffee and let cool. Put about three-quarters of the chocolate in a microwave-safe glass bowl and microwave 30 seconds. Stir, then continue to microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted. Add the remaining chocolate and stir until smooth, about 4 minutes. Drizzle the chocolate over the toffee. Set aside to harden, about 20 minutes. Break the toffee into pieces. Makes 5 cups. Source: Adapted recipe from Food Network magazine.


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Chipotle turkey tacos 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil Two 1-pound bone-in turkey thighs or drumsticks, skin and fat removed Salt and freshly ground pepper 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced 1 medium white onion, cut into 1-inch dice, plus minced white onion for serving 1 large oregano sprig 1 large jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and sliced crosswise 1/4-inch thick 1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped 1 ancho chili, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped or torn One 2-inch cinnamon stick One 12-ounce bottle Mexican dark beer, such as Negro Modelo 1 cup water 12 corn tortillas 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, cilantro sprigs and lime wedges for serving

In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season the turkey with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until richly browned all over, about 8 minutes. Transfer the turkey to a plate. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the casserole along with the garlic, diced onion, oregano and jalapeno. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato, ancho and cinnamon stick and cook, stirring, until the tomato releases its juices. Return the turkey to the casserole, add the beer and water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat, turning once, until the turkey thighs are tender, about 1 hour. Transfer the turkey to a plate and let cool. Discard the oregano sprig and cinnamon stick and boil the sauce over high heat until reduced to one-fourth cup, about 12 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the tortillas in foil and bake for about 8 minutes, until softened and heated through. Remove the turkey meat from the bone and shred it. Transfer the sauce to a food processor and puree. Return the sauce to the pot and stir in the shredded turkey. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the turkey onto the tortillas. Top with minced onion, sesame seeds, cilantro sprigs and lime wedges. Makes 12 tacos. Note: The shredded, braised turkey can be refrigerated in the sauce for up to 2 days. Reheat gently. Source: Deborah Schneider from Food & Wine.


Iceberg wedge with guacamole 1 cup prepared guacamole 1/3 cup fresh lime juice 1/4 cup water 1/2 cup vegetable oil Salt and pepper 1 head iceberg lettuce Sliced radishes, diced tomato, crumbled bacon, diced red onion for garnish

In a blender, puree the guacamole with the fresh lime juice and water. With the machine on, gradually add vegetable oil. Season with salt and pepper. Quarter the iceberg lettuce and spoon the dressing on top. Garnish with the sliced radishes, diced tomato, crumbled bacon and diced red onion. Source: Adapted by Grace Parisi from Food & Wine.



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puzzles for parents Across

1. Mothball substitute 6. “___ Whom the Bell Tolls,” by Hemingway 9. Equal 13. Camel’s relative 14. Baseball great Gehrig 15. ___ the tail __ the donkey 16. IRS threat 17. Unit of electrical resistance 18. Los _____, Calif. 19. Moldable material that had huge commercial impact 21. Location of famous fall 23. ___ Francisco, site of 1906 Great Earthquake 24. Buddy Holly hit, “____ On” 25. Mary ___, businesswoman extraordinaire 28. Belushi famously chanted this in “Animal House” 30. Bivouac 35. Big bang theory's original matter 37. The “Fab Four’s” original number 39. Movie “_____ Recall” 40. Spanish earthen pot 41. Robin Hood's companion 43. Vegan's protein choice 44. What you pay to pass, pl. 46. Doctor’s order 47. Incision 48. Pearl maker 50. Colorful building block


52. One from Laos 53. Not yet final or absolute 55. Rangers and Flyers field of play 57. It carried Gagarin into space 60. Chilly conflict 64. Can be used intermittently 65. The Jackson 5’s “___ Be There”

67. Nose of a missile, e.g. 68. Cleverly funny 69. Customer’s dread 70. Complete list of Catholic saints 71. Type of list 72. Marines are this and proud? 73. Swedish money


1. It can turn some lights on and off 2. Twelfth month of civil year 3. Nihilistic cultural movement 4. Awry 5. Knocks on the door, e.g. 6. Farm Labor Orga-

nizing Committee 7. Expression of amazement 8. Ballroom dance based on Cuban folk dance 9. Under a window 10. ____-perspirant

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11. One small step for man? 12. Half the width of ems 15. JFK to John-John 20. __ and out; on and ___ 22. The day before 24. Typically filled with cheese or meat 25. _____ Protocol, a framework for climate change 26. Bronze, e.g. 27. Hollers 29. Encircle 31. Rolled out for guests, pl. 32. Coral reef island 33. Subject of “The Godfather” 34. Demoted planet 36. Scotch ingredient 38. “Ill at ____” 42. Latin for “region” 45. Lookout man 49. Home of 2016 Olympics 51. According to the clock 54. Small boat 56. J. _____ Hoover, of the FBI 57. Henry ____ 58. Prefers 59. Comedian ____ Rogan 60. Ball of yarn 61. A drunk 62. Shakespeare’s hometown river 63. Actress ____ Sofer 64. Domain of latter part of century 66. Martial artist, Bruce ___

Solutions on Page 61

Family friendly calendar Items for the February calendar are due by Jan. 10. Email details to .


SPANISH FOR KIDS: Class teaches Spanish by exposing children ages 3-5 to language sounds through games, singing, dancing, storytelling and fun. Starts first week of January at French Broad Food Co-op. Email or call 335-2120.

Jan. 2

DANCE CLASSES: Ballet Conservatory of Asheville offers registration for its spring classes, noon-3 p.m. at Five Points Studio, Broadway and Chestnut Street, Asheville. For girls and boys ages 3 and older. Take a free trial class in ballet, jazz, tap or modern. Call 255-5777 or visit

Jan. 3

FOSTER PARENTING INFORMATION SESSION: Get an overview of Buncombe County DSS and the foster parent licensing process. Plenty of time for questions. Orientation is strongly recommended. 6-8 p.m. To register or for information, contact Betsy Gray-Manning at 250-5868 or email PLAY AND LEARN: Free pre-literacy program for ages 3-5 who live in Buncombe County and their parents/caregivers. For children who are not enrolled in regulated child care; those in part-time, “parents morning out” programs are eligible to participate. Weekly 45-minute classes with songs, hands-on educational activities, games, puppets and craft. New participants receive a weekly free book. Younger siblings may attend with their families, but materials are not provided for them. Space is limited; please do not bring nonsiblings under the age of 3. Must attend five of eight sessions. Participants must be 3 by start date. Registration for new participants starts Jan. 3 (starts Jan. 9 for continuing students). To register, call 350-2904 or email Offered at two locations: » Hominy Valley Elementary in Candler, 9 a.m. Fridays, Jan. 13-March 2, in room 106. Register through Jan. 12. Do not call the school to register. » Asheville City Schools Preschool in West Asheville, 10 and 11 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, Jan. 17/18-March 6/7.

Jan. 5 and 12, for expectant parents covering the labor and delivery process, relaxation, breathing patterns, birth options, positioning and comfort measures. 6:30–9 p.m. Registration required. At Pardee Hospital, 800 N. Justice St., Hendersonville. Call 866-790-WELL or visit to register.

Jan. 7

IMPROV THEATER: Asheville Playback Theatre performs a family-friendly show based on real life rather than scripts. Actors and musicians improvise, guided and inspired by stories from the audience. At 2 p.m. at N.C. Stage Company, 15 Stage Lane, Asheville. Visit REUTER FAMILY YMCA SWIM LESSONS: Classes for ages 6 months-12 years on Saturdays, Jan. 7-28. Registration deadline is Jan. 3. Starts at $20. Call 651-9622 or visit TAP-N-SHAKE WITH THE MOOZIC LADY: Swannanoa Library celebrates the winter season with songs in a free program for ages 5-13 with the Moozic Lady, 2:30 p.m. At 101 W. Charleston St. Call 2506486 or email YMCA PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: At Downtown Asheville YMCA for ages 2-12. Activities include swimming, arts and crafts, inflatable obstacle

course, snacks and a movie. Register online or in person (at least 24 hours before scheduled program). Offered 6-10 p.m. the first Saturday of each month. $15 for members ($23 for nonmembers), with $2 sibling discounts. Call 210-9614 or visit

Jan. 7-14

WILDERNESS WILDLIFE WEEK: Programs and activities in Pigeon Forege, Tenn., with more than 50 guided hikes in and around Great Smoky Mountains National Park, programs on photography, camping skills, outdoor safety, and more. Visit

Jan. 9

ART CLASS: Roots + Wings School of Art offers a four-week art class for students in grades K-5. Sessions are 4-5 p.m. Mondays, Jan. 9-Feb. 6 and focus on ways to create a face. $50 per child. Classes at The Cathedral of All Souls, 3 Angle St., Biltmore Village. Visit or call 545-4827. ASHEVILLE YMCA SWIM LESSONS: Four week session of classes for ages 6 months-12 years on

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Jan. 4

PRESCHOOL ART CLASS: Roots + Wings School of Art offers a four-week art class for ages 3-6. Sessions are 1:30-2:30 and 3:30-4:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Jan. 4-25 and focus on Faces, Fringe and Fanciful Colors. $50 per child. Classes at The Cathedral of All Souls, 3 Angle St., Biltmore Village. Visit or call 545-4827.

Jan. 5 and 12

CHILDBIRTH CLASSES: A free two-session class, on




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calendar of events Continued from Page 57 Mondays and Wednesdays, Jan. 9-Feb. 1. Register by Jan. 6. Call 210-9622. CIRCLE OF HOPE FERTILITY SUPPORT MEETING: For women and men experiencing problems conceiving. 6:30-8 p.m. at Spa Materna, 640 Merrimon Ave, Suite 204. Call 254-2222 or visit REUTER FAMILY YMCA SWIM LESSONS: Classes for ages 6 months-12 years on Mondays and Wednesdays, Jan. 9-Feb. 1. Registration deadline is Jan. 4. Starts at $40. Call 651-9622 or visit

Jan. 10

ASHEVILLE YMCA SWIM LESSONS: Four week session of classes for ages 6 months-12 years on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Jan. 10-Feb. 2. Register by Jan. 6. Call 210-9622. FOSTER PARENTING CLASSES: Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting classes run 6-9 p.m. Tuesdays for 10 weeks, starting Jan. 10. Class explains foster care system and will meet training requirements for becoming a foster parent. To register or for information, contact Betsy Gray-Manning at 250-5868 or email REUTER FAMILY YMCA SWIM LESSONS: Classes for ages 6 months-12 years on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Jan. 10-Feb. 2. Registration deadline is Jan. 4. Starts at $40. Call 651-9622 or visit

Jan. 11

HOLISTIC PARENTING FORUM: Free group to provide support, education and resources for a community of parents committed to natural living. Meets 6-8 p.m. the second Wednesday of the month at Earth Fare in West Asheville. Children welcome. Call 230-4850 or email ODYSSEY COMMUNITY SCHOOL OPEN HOUSE: Learn about Odyssey Commuintiy School, which offers pre-K through high school, at an open house, 5:30-7 p.m. Now accepting midyear enrollment. Visit or call 259-3653. At 90 Zillicoa St., Asheville.

Jan. 12

CELEBRATION SINGERS OF ASHEVILLE: Children’s community chorus for ages 7-14 will host auditions. Prepare a song and bring sheet music if possible. At 6 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 20 Oak St., Asheville. Visit or call 2305778. ORIGAMI FOLDING FRENZY: The Health Adventure hosts origami club for all levels, 4-5 p.m. second Thursday of the month. Learn new folds, share favorites and meet fellow origami enthusiasts. Paper available at museum store or bring your own. Free with admission. At Biltmore Square Mall, off Brevard Road. Call 665-2217 or visit

Jan. 13

SING-ALONG: Join Tania for music and movement, 10:30 a.m. at Hands On! A Child’s Gallery, 318 N.

The Soweto Gospel Choir performs Jan. 29 at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. SPECIAL TO WNC PARENT Main St., Hendersonville. Free with admission or membership. All ages. Call 697-8333 or visit TEEN AWESOME GROUP: Weaverville Library’s teen group meets 4-5:30 p.m. Jan. 13 and 27 as work continues on the book movie trailer to “The Forest of Hands and Teeth” by Carrie Ryan. At 41 N. Main St., Weaverville. Call 250-6482. All teens ages 12-18 are welcome, join in at any time. Call 250-6482 or email

Jan. 14

ASHEVILLE YMCA SWIM LESSONS: Four week session of classes for ages 6 months-12 years on Saturdays, Jan. 14-Feb. 4. Register by Jan. 13. Call 210-9622. ‘TONDA AND T.K. FRIENDS’ PROGRAM: Come learn about unusual animal friendships with Mary Byrd, author of “Tonda and T.K. Friends,” a story about love between a yellow cat and a huge brown orangutan. With refreshments and a free animal toy. 10:30-11:30 a.m. at Grateful Steps, 159 S. Lexington Ave., Asheville. Call 277-0998 or email

Jan. 16

SOCCER REGISTRATION DEADLINE: Register for spring recreation level soccer through Asheville Buncombe Youth Soccer Association for all age levels by Jan. 16. $58 for U5-U6 and $68 for all other ages. Price doesn’t include uniform. Visit

Jan. 17

‘CINDERELLA KIDS’: Asheville Community Theatre production class meets 4:30-6 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday through March 8. Performances are March 23-25. $300. Payment plans available. To register, call 254-2939, ext. 21.


Jan. 18

BOOK N’ CRAFT: Enter the world of Curious Goerge and get creative with a craft, at 10:30 a.m. at Hands On! A Child’s Gallery, 318 N. Main St., Hendersonville. All ages. Free with admission or membership. Call 697-8333 or visit

Jan. 19

ACA OPEN HOUSE: Learn more about middle school at Asheville Christian Academy, 9-11 a.m. Register at Call 581-2200. The school is at 74 Riverwood Road, Swannanoa. ART OF BREAST-FEEDING: Pardee Hospital offers free class for new moms, 6:30-8 p.m. at hospital, 800 N. Justice St., Hendersonville. Registration is required. Call 866-790-WELL or visit to register.

Jan. 23

CHILD CARE/PRESCHOOL OPEN HOUSE: Mountain Area Child and Family Center, an early childhood center and preschool for children ages birth to 5, will host an open house offering advice on what questions to ask and how to find the best fit for you and your child when looking for child care and preschool. Take a tour of the five-star rated Riceville facility. Includes a “Rainbow in my Tummy” lunch. 10:30 a.m.-noon. At 2586 Riceville Road, Asheville. Space is limited, RSVP required. Call Susanne Hackett at 298-0808, ext. 105, (leave message) or email by Jan. 18.

Jan. 25

CRAZY CHEMISTS: Make jewel and gem goop with crazy chemists at Hands On! A Child’s Gallery. At 10:30 a.m. for ages 3 and older. Call to register, 697-8333. At 318 N. Main St., Hendersonville. Visit

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calendar of events

4 p.m. at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. For tickets, visit

Continued from Page 59

Jan. 31

SCI GIRLS: Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute hosts a program at 6-8 p.m. for girls ages 9-14. January’s topic is “High-Tech Fashion — Electrical Circuits.” $10. Registration required. Adults must accompany children. Call 862-5554 or email Group meets at the Transylvania County 4-H Office, 98 E. Morgan St., Brevard.

Jan. 26

INFANT CARE CLASS: Pardee Hospital offers free class covering basics of infant care, 6:30-8 p.m. at hospital, 800 N. Justice St., Hendersonville. Registration is required. Call 866-790-WELL or visit to register.

Feb. 1

Jan. 26-29

WINTERFEST: Blowing Rock’s annual celebration of winter with Chili Challenge, polar plunge, ice carving competition, kids activities and much more. Visit

Jan. 27

WOODFIN YMCA PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: The Neighborhood Y at Woodfin hosts a parents’ night out, 6-9 p.m. the fourth Friday of each month for ages 2-12. Members pay $12 for first child, $10 additional (nonmembers, $18/child). Children will enjoy a craft, free play, games and a hearty snack, with a movie at the end of the evening. Call 5053990.

Jan. 29

SOWETO GOSPEL CHOIR: Asheville Bravo Concerts presents the award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir at


PRESCHOOL ART CLASS: Roots + Wings School of Art offers a four-week art class for ages 3-6. Sessions are 1:30-2:30 and 3:30-4:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Feb. 1-22 and focus on printmaking. $50 per child. Classes at The Cathedral of All Souls, 3 Angle St., Biltmore Village. Visit or call 545-4827.

Feb. 6

ASHEVILLE YMCA SWIM LESSONS: Four-week session of classes for ages 6 months-12 years on Mondays and Wednesdays, Feb. 6-29. Register by Feb. 3. Call 210-9622.

Feb. 7

ASHEVILLE YMCA SWIM LESSONS: Four-week session of classes for ages 6 months-12 years on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Feb. 7-March 1. Register by

Feb. 3. Call 210-9622.

Feb. 10

HAND IN HAND FUNDRAISER: First Presbyterian Church of Swannanoa, 372 Bee Tree Road, hosts spaghetti dinner fundraiser for Hand In Hand, a charitable organization that raises money for lowincome students in the Owen School District. All proceeds go directly to the counseling offices of the schools in Owen district to benefit students who need school supplies and other necessities. 5-7 p.m. Snow date is Feb. 17. Call Rev. Alex McLean for more information, 686-3140.

Feb. 12

VERITAS CHRISTIAN ACADEMY OPEN HOUSE: Community is welcome to tour school and learn more about its philosophy and curriculum during an open house, 2-4 p.m. At 17 Cane Creek Road, Fletcher. Visit or call 681-0546.

Feb. 13

ART CLASS: Roots + Wings School of Art offers a four-week art class for students in grades K-5. Sessions are 4-5 p.m. Mondays, Feb. 13-March 5 and focus on sculptures. $50 per child. Classes at The Cathedral of All Souls, 3 Angle St., Biltmore Village. Visit or call 545-4827.


HOME SCHOOL ART PROGRAM: Classical drawing, mixed media, painting and sculpture for ages 5-13 starting in January at Canvas, Paint + Mingle, 735c Haywood Road, West Asheville. Visit for details. CELEBRATION SINGERS OF ASHEVILLE: Nonprofit chorus for singers ages 7-14. Rehearsals at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays at First Congregational Church, 20 Oak St., Asheville. Contact Ginger Haselden at 230-5778 or visit ZEUGNER CENTER FAMILY SWIM: Buncombe County’s Zeugner Center indoor pool is open 1:30-5 p.m. Sundays for open swim. $3 per person. Passes available, $20 for 10 visits and $40 for 25 visits. The Zeugner Center at 90 Springside Drive, Arden, behind Roberson High School. For more information, contact Teri Gentile at 684-5072 or HENDERSONVILLE CHILDREN’S CHOIR: Open to all interested singers ages 6-13. Takes new members in September and January. Visit SWANNANOA VALLEY MONTESSORI SCHOOL: Ages 18 months to sixth grade. Drop-In tours at 9 a.m. Tuesdays. Preschool at 130 Center Ave., Black Mountain. Elementary at Carver Community Center, Black Mountain. Call 669-8571 or visit DANCE LESSONS: Asheville Clogging Company offers clogging, Irish step dancing, hip-hop, jazz, ballet and tap classes for all ages, preschool to adult. Visit, call 329-3856 or e-mail PARENTS’ MORNING OUT PROGRAM: St. Eugene Catholic Church is enrolling children for its parents morning out program. Two teachers for each 10 children. For ages 6 months to 4 years. Program is 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Friday. Church is at 72 Culvern

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St., Asheville. Call Cynthia Francis at 254-5193, ext. 25, or e-mail JOYFUL NOISE CLASSES: Joyful Noise Community Music and Arts Center offers classes for children and adults with beginning guitar, beginning songwriting, percussion, Appalachian jamming, Kindermusik, visual arts, drama, and chamber music. Private lessons available. Joyful Noise is based at the First Presbyterian Church in Weaverville with satellite locations in Marshall and South Asheville. For information and a full schedule, visit or call 649-2828. MOTHERS MORNING OUT: Trinity Presbyterian Church’s Mothers Morning Out program is enrolling children ages 6 weeks-6 years for care/preschool for the school year (through April). Offered 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays. Learning, dance, music and more. Register at the church, 17 Shawnee Trail, in Redwood Forrest development in East Asheville. Call Tina Robinson at 299-3433, ext. 308, or visit TINY TOTS ADVENTURES: Montford Community Center offers this free class 10-11:30 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through April. No class when Asheville City Schools are out. At 34 Pearson Drive. Call 253-3714. ASHEVILLE TAASC: The American Adventure Service Corps is a nonprofit program dedicated to inspiring young people to become compassionate leaders, stewards of the environment and responsible community members. Year-round and summer programs. Activities include wilderness backpacking, climbing and rappelling, whitewater and flat water paddling, cave exploration, mountain biking, wilderness first aid, leadership development and com-

munity service. Visit or call 299-9844 or e-mail TENNIS LESSONS: Asheville Racquet Club offers tennis lessons this fall in two locations, ARC South on Hendersonville Road and ARC Downtown, at 1 Resort Drive, Asheville. Classes starting at age 4-14, tournament program for ages 9-18. For ARC South, contact Mindy Sheppard at 274-3361, ext. 310, or For ARC Downtown, contact Bo Webb at 545-4939 or YMCA AFTERSCHOOL PROGRAM: The YMCA offers after-school care from 2:30-6 p.m. at 17 Buncombe County schools and serves three Asheville

City Schools at the YMCA Beaverdam location. Curriculum focuses on arts and humanities, literacy, health and wellness, conflict resolution, math and science, service learning and cultural diversity. Visit or call 210-2273. FAIRVIEW PRESCHOOL: A developmentally ageappropriate, hands-on learning environment for children ages 2-5 (pre-K). Classes will meet 8:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. At 596 U.S. 74, behind Fairview Library, in Fairview. Call 338-2073, email or visit

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WNCParent January 2012  

WNCParent January 2012 edition

WNCParent January 2012  

WNCParent January 2012 edition