The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation,” Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) is credited with once saying.
And cooperation on Sundt Road is redeeming “kid-kind”: a cooperative effort — sharing, if you will — of facilities between The ASK Academy and the Boys & Girls Club.
Just about every day this summer, when the Boys & Girls Club overflows with an average of 170 youngsters, a few dozen of them head next door to The ASK Academy, where myriad activities — and additional space — are available.
A cacophony of sounds seems to vibrate the walls of the two-year-old, two-story school, as a band rehearses in one room, 22 kids are laughing and shouting during a team-building exercise in another room, and there are happy sounds from kids on the floor and squinting at computer monitors, all working with robotics.
“During the school year, we use them for lunches and after-school activities, and as our home court for basketball and volleyball,” Paul Stephenson says of the Boys & Girls Club.
Stephenson, a co-founder of the school and its director of engineering and design, said, “This is an example of two entities serving kids in the city of Rio Rancho. We’ve accomplished some pretty big things … We’re ambassadors for each other.”
B&G Club Director Stephen Williamson, in his position since January 2017, said he was amazed at the cooperative spirit he found at his neighbors’ digs.
“Right off the bat, meeting Paul and Dan (Barbour) and Dan (Busse), there was sort of an immediate camaraderie,” Williamson said. “I get them; they get me.”
At the last place he had management responsibilities, he said, “It was like pulling teeth to get anything done.”
The key to this relationship, he said, is that, “We think outside of the box — all of us — it’s like a think tank.”
When The ASK Academy needed a place to have its annual senior class dinner, Williamson had them at his place, after he “got a grant from the Taco Bell Foundation.”
Boys & Girls Club, for youngsters ages 5-18, have provided great backgrounds for well-known American successes, Williamson said, like actress Jennifer Lopez — “She learned to dance at a Boys & Girls Club” — basketball player LeBron James and actor Denzel Washington.
Williamson said he occasionally has to get tough with his charges, but found some success after temporarily banning cell phones: “They were so much more social,” he said.
The ASK Academy will welcome its approximately 525 scholars back to campus for the start of school on Aug. 2, Stephenson said.