Sophia Libman X-Time

Academy High freshman Sophia Libman has created a slate of free online courses for elementary school students taught by local experts and organizations.

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CHAMPAIGN — Life was busy for Sophia Libman before the pandemic sent her and her eighth-grade classmates at Countryside School home.

Almost every day, she’d head to gymnastics after school. Some days, she’d work in a run; others, she’d volunteer with organizations including Special Olympics and Champaign-Urbana Special Recreation.

So when she was sent home from school, she began thinking about how to fill that void.

“I love to be busy and always doing something,” said Libman, now a freshman at Academy High. “When the pandemic started, I saw that it caused so many challenges for families in the community, so I really felt bad for them and I wanted to do something to help. So then I’m like, ‘Oh, is there something that I can do that’s fun and educational for children to do at home but then also helping parents?’”

Elementary school students needed new ways to pursue interests, she figured. And plenty of local organizations had time on their hands.

That’s how she conceived X-Time, which will offer one free 30-minute class over Zoom each week for elementary school students, with different instructors.

The classes will include “gymnastics, writing, performing arts, math, martial arts, yoga, acting, cooking, coding, and so much more,” according to the website Libman crafted herself.

X-Time starts Sept. 14 with a martial-arts class hosted by Dragon Claw Academy. In the ensuing weeks, X-Time will host classes in performing arts hosted by Class Act, creative writing hosted by local author Alice McGinty and a yoga class led by Amara Yoga.

The name X-Time is derived from algebra, where the letter ‘X’ is variable.

Libman said classes can accommodate around 20 students, with some possibly taking more. Parents can sign their elementary schoolers up at x-time.org.

She hopes to eventually extend the classes to middle- and high-schoolers.

“My hope is that it becomes a virtual place where students can go and be excited and learn new areas that they haven’t known before. I hope that even after the pandemic it’ll still be there,” she said. “And I think we’ll continue to be virtual just so the parents don’t have to drive back and forth constantly. I also am thinking about how to make classes or topics for middle school and high school students someday.”

Life has taken on some normalcy in the past few months for Libman, with school beginning and gymnastics starting up in socially distanced fashion. She’s in the process of creating a cross-country team at Academy High as well.

But with X-Time, she’s found a new, purpose-driven hobby that she doesn’t plan on quitting any time soon.

“I’ve enjoyed every part of doing it,” she said. “It can be busy, but I love that feeling that you’re going to help someone by doing this. I’m just really looking forward to seeing how it goes and getting started.”