Starkville’s Parks and Recreation Department has received statewide recognition for the second year in a row.
The department won first place at the Mississippi Park and Recreation Association’s Annual Convention and Trade Show with its Arts, Humanities and Programming Award of Merit for its foreign language classes.
Over the past year, Beth Nilsson has been teaching children from kindergarten through the sixth grade and their parents classes in Spanish and French.
Nilsson, who moved to Starkville from Los Angeles, Calif., said she tries to keep the programs fun and interesting.
“I don’t want them to feel like this is just another class after school,” she said.
Nilsson recommends early exposure to foreign languages for children — at least before middle achool, which is often when people begin learning a new language.
Parks and Recreation Department Program Director Lisa Cox said Nilsson’s teaching methods are very effective.
“We’re extremely proud of effort she’s put forth,” Cox said, explaining that the department offers a wide variety of activities outside of athletics for children and adults. “Our biggest programs are always going to be sports, but there are all different kinds of people who prefer all kinds of recreation.”
Last year, the department won two first place awards at the Mississippi convention: Best Facility of the Year and Best Programming of the Year with its civic sports camp. The department competes annually against other cities with populations between 15,000 and 34,999.
One of its popular non-athletic programs includes activities for senior citizens, such as quilting, sewing and bingo.
“We also have line dancing and square dancing,” Cox said.
On Oct. 26, the Sportsplex will offer a six-week long Zumba fitness class from 5 to 5:45 p.m.
Inspired by Latin dances, Zumba fitness is an aerobic and muscle workout.
Certified Zumba instructor Gayle Cook will teach a twice-a-week program for $90 and a once-a-week one for $30.
“We’re thrilled that she wants to do Zumba here,” Cox said.
The Sportsplex, located on 405 Lynn Lane, also offers yoga, jazz, hip-hop, ballet and early morning fitness classes.
“Our goal here is to provide as many services as we can here to the public,” said department Director Matthew Rye, “And we’re accomplishing that goal.”
For more information, call 323-2294 or visit the website at http://starkvilleparks.com .