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Far and Wise Eyes Continued Expansion
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The kids are jazzed about Far + Wise teacher Lisa Dirksmeier, and she’s just as jazzed about them.
   
Friday, June 7, 2024
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Nine-year-old Angie Marqeuz is among 125 students who go to school, then spend another three hours from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at school with Far + Wise.

She doesn’t mind tacking more reading and arithmetic onto her day, along with arts and crafts, games and other activities. She says the Far + Wise afterschool program is “a dream space—a place where kids can have fun.”

“No one deserves to get treated mean, and the teachers are kind, they never judge. They teach us and, if we make a mistake, we don’t get in trouble,” she said.

 
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Students show off a mural they made showing the place where they live.
 

“If you have a question, you can ask it—the teachers are so nice and caring,” added Angie’s friend Isabella Guadalupe Hernandez.

The 2023-24 school year ended on Thursday.

But Laura Rose-Lewis is already looking toward to next fall when Far + Wise, formerly known as I Have a Dream-Idaho, adopts another class.

The organization started out by adopting two classes of third-graders, providing tutoring and enrichment experiences for them in addition to offering financial support for college.

 
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A father proudly wears a crown his son made for him during an end-of-the-school Far + Wise picnic.
 

All 45 of the first group of Dreamers, as they were called, graduated. And those students are attending such schools as Santa Clara University, Middlebury College, the College of Southern Idaho and Boise State University. A few are in military and trade schools.

Far + Wise adopted a couple more classes as those students prepared to graduate from Wood River High School. But it didn’t stop there. The program nurtured 125 kindergarteners to fifth-graders from Bellevue, Hailey, Alturas, and Hemingway elementary schools in five afterschool groups this year. And it will adopt another class next year, said Rose-Lewis.

“That means we will have supported 13 groups all the way through by the time today’s fourth-graders graduate seven years from now,” she said. “We’ll follow them from kindergarten to college or trade school. We not only help them academically, but we provide life skills learning. We’re serving kids, and they’re thriving and growing.”

Students meet from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. every day after school, during which they work on reading and math skills, go on field trips and explore the woods at Idaho BaseCamp near Bellevue. They start out each session sharing successes and concerns in what they call a “community meeting,” during which they learn such skills as how to deal with kids who provoke them.

 
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Students were rewarded with face painting and tattoos at the end of the year.
 

This year teachers also began selecting a topic for the month for the youngsters to focus on. During April, for instance, they learned about animal tracks and looked at dirt under the microscope in honor of Earth Day. During May they learned about the upcoming Summer Olympics, making flags and learning about the countries and sports that will be involved.

During their end-of-school party Thursday night they staged their own Olympics.

This summer Far + Wise will provide 10 staff members to partner with the YMCA on Summerbridge. Most of the students attend the program, which is designed to prevent the drop-off in learning that sometimes occurs during summer.

Last year Far + Wise collaborated with Sun Valley Economic Development and the Blaine County School District to offer trade camps for those who may have no interest in college but have considerable talent for careers in aviation, culinary arts, welding and automotive mechanics.

 
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And end-of-the-school potluck picnic features includes pizza, plenty of Mexican food and lilacs.
 

The Center for Career Exploration, as that program’s been named, is offering another round of camps this summer in which students can learn about professions in healthcare, public safety, carpentry and woodworking and wastewater.

“We’re emphasizing community service, too,” said Rose-Lewis. “Our Earth Day Project was picking up trash.”

Far + Wise was modeled after a national I Have a Dream program designed to provide academic help, encouragement and college financial support to at-risk students in Harlem. Many of the students’ parents had not attended college; some did not speak English. The idea was to break second- and third-generational poverty with education.

Far + Wise spun off into its own program as it began adding the trade camps and other programs.

Miriam de Laera said she’s always asking if she can stay 10 minutes more: “I love everything, especially reading,” she added.

Jhuber Yancan was grateful for the opportunity for his 8-year-old son Jacob.

“This program is absolutely amazing. Our son was needing extra work with reading, and it really made a difference. Sometimes both parents work so they don’t always have time to sit down and work with their children on their schoolwork.”

Last year students enrolled in the program saw their reading and math comprehension increase one to three grade levels.

“We teach them how they need to be accountable for themselves. They’re learning to be together in the world,” said teacher Lisa Dirksmeier. “And it’s so fun to see the lightbulbs in their heads turn on as they catch on to something.”

BLACK TIE + BLUE JEANS

Far + Wise will hold its second annual Black Tie + Blue Jeans fundraiser at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, at The Argyros in Ketchum. The evening will include a cocktail reception, dinner, auction and a full program with guest speakers.

To learn more, visit https://farandwise.ejoinme.org/MyEvents/BlackTieBlueJeans/PurchaseTickets/tabid/1423404/Default.aspx

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