The yurt is open for business.
Parents and staff at the North Routt Community Charter School in Clark celebrated the completion of the school's newest classroom -- a 30-foot-wide yurt -- at an open house Saturday with hot cider, cookies and holiday-themed snacks.
"We're very excited about it," charter school Director Colleen Poole said, standing inside the circular, green-canvas tent stretched over a wooden framework.
Construction on the yurt began Nov. 1 and lasted about three weeks, Poole said. The Montrose-based Colorado Yurt Company designed the structure, which the school will use for science, math and music classes.
Parents helped with the construction, digging holes for cement pilings and climbing ladders to stretch the heavy canvas over the frame, then installing thick tension wires to hold the canvas in place. Poole said the structure cost about $25,000.
Student Alana White, 13, said the charter school needed an additional classroom.
"It's been a little tight -- at the beginning of the year there were space issues," said Alana, an eighth-grader who has attended the charter school since its inception four years ago. "This worked out really well."
Enrollment at the school increased by 60 percent this year, Poole said, to 33 students.
Classes taught by Linda Wilson, a former math teacher at Steamboat Springs Middle School, will begin in the yurt after winter break. Poole hired Wilson this year to teach math and science.
At Saturday's open house, preparations for the classes filled the yurt, which electric heaters made comfortably warm on a cold, snowy day. A drum set and keyboard stood ready on one side of the room, and math textbooks filled shelves across the shiny wooden floor. A large orange sun hung on one wall near a poster of Albert Einstein and a couch.
"It's really different," said Alana, who helped with the construction and said she is excited to have classes in the yurt.
Steamboat Springs School
Board member John De----Vincentis, on hand for the event, had another idea for the structure.
"Can you imagine this for a (work) shop?" he said with a smile, looking up at the high, conical ceiling with a clear "bubble" at the top that lets in natural light. DeVincentis said the yurt is "a great place for kids to have classes."
A representative from Mount--ain Valley Bank gave Poole a check for $750 to commemorate the event and boost the school's finances.
"We've already spent it, by the way," Poole said, drawing laughter from about 20 people who attended the open house. "On new microscopes."
Poole said classes of about 12 students will use the yurt, but there is room for more students if needed.
"We could expand (the use) quite a bit," she said.
If Poole has her way, the charter school will expand, too.
"Our goal is maybe to build somewhere, eventually," Poole said. "We'll see what the future brings."