Toddlers have a new place to play, older kids can join a mountain biking team or test their skills on a floating obstacle course at Coney Island, and parents have a new educational option, all part of our 2021 Best of the City list.
Way to Fly: Cincinnati State/Kenton County Schools Aviation Program
A partnership between Northern Kentucky’s second-largest school district and Cincinnati State helps local high school students soar—and prepares them for careers in aviation maintenance technology. Over two years, the 15 juniors in the program will spend half their days at Cincinnati State’s Harrison campus, where they’ll take classes, with the goal of completing an associate’s degree and becoming certified drone pilots to boot. The hope is the program will create a local pool of highly-skilled workers who can fill a need as CVG expands and the new Amazon hub gets off the ground. • cincinnatistate.edu
Cooking Show: Chow and Tell
In an effort to connect with her remote-learning students, Norwood Middle and High School teacher Leila Kubesch leaned on her creative problem-solving skills to come up with Chow and Tell, a cooking show for the Norwood City School District. This year, Kubesch and select students filmed more than 30 episodes—featuring guest chefs like former Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria and Ohio State Board of Education Vice President Charlotte McGuire—all of which aired on the public access station Norwood Community Television.
High School Sports Team: White Squirrels Mountain Biking Club
Competitive mountain biking is now a nationally sanctioned school sport, and 2021 was the first year for the sport in Ohio and Kentucky. Locally, the White Squirrels team, comprised of high schoolers from all over Northern Kentucky and all skill levels, is bringing the sport to the tri-state mainstream, practicing on trails in the hilly woods behind Ft. Thomas’s Tower Park. So far, their competitions have taken them as far as Athens and Toledo. And with skilled coaches to guide these young riders, who knows where they might compete next? • White Squirrels, contact coach Brian Bozeman, email@example.com
West Side Play Place: Happy Hangout
Tricia Malobicky thought west side families deserved a play place on their own side of town, so she created Happy Hangout. With its kid-scale Main Street of shops, party rooms, and 600-square-foot jungle gym, the littles will certainly enjoy themselves. Grownups can find plenty to love, too, with free adult admission, fast WiFi, outlets for charging, and the ability to bring your own food. Schedule your playdates now. • 2041 Anderson Ferry Rd., Covedale, (513) 458-1470, happyhangoutws.com
Kitchen Renovation: Baker Hunt Art and Cultural Center
Two summers ago, the Baker Hunt Art and Cultural Center launched a $1.8 million construction project, renovating classrooms and adding a state-of-the-art teaching kitchen. While the pandemic didn’t derail the project, it did delay it, forcing the organization to wait until this year to begin its new series of cooking classes. The extremely popular kids’ cooking classes are a highlight, where young chefs can learn to make everything from mini pumpkin pies to three-course meals. There are cooking classes for grownups, too, as well as instruction in drawing, painting, yoga, and more. • 620 Greenup St., Covington, (859) 431-0020, bakerhunt.org
Montessori School: Community Montessori
Community Montessori Head of School Terri Rentrop and her team of founders knew for several years they wanted to create a place that would serve families while connecting them to the Covington community. The student body is diverse by design, and the affordable tuition, plus a scholarship fund, offers access to those who might not otherwise be able to consider private education. • 131 E. Fifth St., Covington, (859) 261-1374, mycommunitymontessori.com
Coney Island Attraction: Challenge Zone
Summer days at the pool are all about relaxing, but who could resist the challenge of a new obstacle course? The Challenge Zone, the largest Aquaglide pool obstacle course in the country, opened this season at Coney Island. It features two floating courses side-by-side and more than 150 feet of slides, monkey bars, balance beams, and other obstacles in the deep end of Sunlite Pool, perfect for a splash-filled dash to the finish. • 6201 Kellogg Ave., Anderson Twp., (513) 232-8230, coneyislandpark.com