Gillette Has Great Schools, Kids' Activities
PHOTO CREDIT: Wendy Jo O'Barr
Whether moving across the country or just across town, one of the first considerations of families with children is the quality of their prospective community’s schools. A concern that runs a close second: what amenities does the community offer for kids?
Ann Neary had just those concerns in 2008 when her husband Shawn Neary accepted the job of launching the men’s basketball program at Gillette College, and the couple prepared to move from Montana to Gillette with their four children.
“We were nervous about it,” she says. But Gillette welcomed the Nearys – and their kids – with open arms and plenty to offer. The Neary children – currently ages 7, 9, 11 and 13 – have attended preschools, elementary schools and now junior high in Gillette, as well as participated in a plethora of activities.
Campbell County Schools and More
The Campbell County School District is the third-largest in Wyoming and continues to steadily grow. It recently hired 80 new teachers and has a district average student/teacher ratio of 18-to-1. District facilities include a planetarium that underwent a $2.8 million equipment upgrade in 2011; an aquatic center at which every CCSD student takes swimming lessons; and the Science Center-Adventurarium – a fun, hands-on learning lab for district students that also welcomes thousands of visitors annually from outside Campbell County.
Ann Neary can’t say enough good things about the schools. “They are all wonderful; they are just fantastic,” she says. “The staff, the teachers, the principals, the secretaries – they’re all just so easy to work with. If you need something, they’re on it. They just go out of their way, above and beyond. The Aquatic Center is phenomenal, and the planetarium is also amazing.”
The private Preschool Academy, where Neary’s youngest daughter attended preschool, is so popular it has a waiting list. It also recently expanded, adding space and teachers to meet demand.
The Boys & Girls Club of Campbell County likewise provides learning and development resources for area youngsters.
Extra-curricular Activities for Campbell County Kids
And the extra-curricular activities for kids abound. Neary runs down a list that includes basketball, soccer and swimming at the Campbell County Recreation Center, an amenity-packed facility with a 42-foot climbing wall in the lobby. Summer sports camps, football, gymnastics and dance programs are popular. Ice sports are big in Gillette, too, with hockey, figure-skating and recreational ice-skating available at Spirit Hall Ice Arena, located in the east end of the Wyoming Center at the Cam-Plex.
Camelanes Bowling Center offers youth and adult leagues, as well as open bowling and birthday party facilities. Automatic bumpers are available on every lane for the littlest bowlers.
Razor City Skateland roller rink also has birthday and private party options in addition to open skating.
The Ava Community Art Center nurtures creativity with a variety of kid-friendly arts and crafts classes.
“There are so many things for kids that it’s almost overwhelming,” Neary says. “There’s something to do for everyone. It is a wonderful place to raise a family.”
Find ideas for outdoor recreation in Gillette.