On the last Thursday in February, Pocahontas County second grade students got their first taste of skiing at Snowshoe Mountain Resort as part of the four-week Nature’s Mountain Classroom curriculum. By the fourth Thursday, the students were old pros on the slopes and celebrated with a lunch of locally-sourced foods.
The curriculum for the students included learning about weather and literacy, as well as special projects in the local community.
“Last week, the DEP presented animal adaptations and camouflage,” NMC director Tracey Valach said. “The week before, the library did story elements, and they got to write their own little story. The week before that, Luci [Mosesso] did some STEM, 4-H activities.”
One session included the students taking thermometers outside at Snowshoe and recording the temperature. They also learned about the many properties of water when it is subjected to different temperatures.
“Mary Sue [Burns] did solid, liquid, gas,” Marlinton Elementary School teacher Denise Burns said. “The temperature really hits on math and science.”
Unlike the curriculum and activities of the third, fourth and fifth grades, the second grade students spent more time with their ski instructors, but still managed to find time for learning once they were finished on the slopes for the day.
“They spend about three-quarters of the day skiing and then about a quarter inside, versus the older students with a quarter physical activity and three-quarters education,” Valach said. “This one is a little different.”
The skiing takes more time due to outfitting the students – which includes ski pants, coats, helmets, boots and, of course, skis.
The students were divided into groups and spent the morning with ski instructors, learning the ins and outs of safely enjoying the winter sport.
“They were taught by ski school instructors,” Valach said. “All that time was donated by Snowshoe. The Share Winter Foundation was the one that helped bring all the pieces together – jackets or things like that that the kids needed. If we had a kid without a coat, we were able to provide that and they get to keep everything – jackets, pants, gloves – whatever they needed. Snowshoe bought them all ski helmets, so they get to keep their ski helmet at the end.”
The students, teachers, parents and volunteers who participated in the four-week program had a special treat on the last Thursday – a special brunch with Bev’s Best pancakes by Bev and Jim Anderton, Frostmore Farm Maple syrup from Adam and Rachel Taylor, 4-H club eggs, fried potatoes with ramps from Melia Thompson and sausage from Wilfong Farms owned by Charles and Michelle Wilfong.
“Today is kind of special because we’re doing the hyper local lunch,” Valach said. “Everything was sourced from Pocahontas County.
Today’s education station is Future Generations University doing maple science, so the kids will get to go to three different stations and learn all about maple syrup.”
The maple syrup stations were led by Pocahontas County High School FFA members, who also helped source maple syrup at Frostmore Farm.
The second grade is the first class in Pocahontas County that will experience all levels of Nature’s Mountain Classroom, and by the end of their fifth grade year, the students will all receive a pair of skis, donated by Snowshoe Mountain Resort.