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Cool Kids Club celebrates 16 years

Sidney's Cool Kids Club program celebrated its 16th year with Lights Out After School Thursday at North Elementary.

"Lights on After School is a celebration once a year," Kim Hofrock, CKC director, said. "Beyond School Bells, Nebraska Children & Family, sponsors it through a grant, to celebrate after school programs."

With dinner, parents watched their children demonstrate STEM skills such as basic programming and made crafts together.

Cool Kids Club is an after school program that provides individualized study time for students and homework assistance.

"We also provide some kind of learning. Cooking or electronics, science," Hofrock said. "We do activities with the kids after school in conjunction with helping with homework."

There are also seven all-day events each year.

"When there is no school we provide care for kids, but we also provide learning for the kids," Hofrock said. "Each day is planned out by two staff members."

A program Friday, for example, will educate students on healthy habits and also organ donation.

Students benefit from exposure to science, technology, engineering and mathematics instruction, Hofrock said.

"STEM is good for kids because it helps them grow educationally. It opens their eyes to new things," she said. "We just get to have fun with science and technology."

Students Thursday demonstrated basic programming skills using BeetleBots, programming the toys to travel specific directions along colorful floor maps.

"We make sure the kids are always having fun," Hofrock said. "They get hands on experience they wouldn't get in the classroom. They get to get dirty. They get to learn about new things. we get to do more stuff."

Parents are "vital" to Cool Kids Club's efforts.

"They are our core," Hofrock said. "They will tell us if a kid needs extra help. They know we're always here to help them."

The program's effect on students is long-lasting, Hofrock said, recalling a student she helped one summer, five years ago.

"I ran into him just the other day and he remembers everything I did with him over the summer," she said. "It's amazing how the kids remember the fun they had with Cool Kids."

After several years with the program, Hofrock began as program director this school year, and has described it as an "amazing experience."

"It's been so fun. It's very rewarding to work with the kids," she said. "You get to help them grow and you get to see them, and they love you for it. They have unconditional love, and they know you're there for them."


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