Two classes win a free day on the slopes

The contest entries were neck and neck, so instead of awarding just one, two extremely lucky Grades 4 and 5 classes were shuttled up to Sun Peaks Resort Jan. 18 and 19 for a day of skiing and snowboarding.

Dufferin Elementary in Kamloops and Merritt Bench Elementary in Merritt were the two winning schools in the Thompson Valley for this year’s Winter Feels Good program.

Dawn Ellingsen, Merritt Bench’s Grade 4/5 teacher, said she was “thrilled, excited and very proud of the kids in my class.”

As for her class? “They screamed and yelled and jumped up and down in their chairs. They were ecstatic. And surprised too. We didn’t know if we would win or not.”

“We really wanted to (win) and it was an absolute thrill and honour to be chosen.”

At Dufferin, Grade 5 teacher Raven Ritcey found out about the news along with her class when Sun Peaks Resort’s Chelsey Moore visited the school to deliver the news.

“We hollered,” said Ritcey. “We have this little bell in the front of the room. All afternoon, every 10 minutes, I’d ding one ding and we’d go ‘Woohoo! We won!’”

In its third year, the Winter Feels Good program aims to introduce winter sports to Grades 4 and 5 students and is sponsored yearly by the Canadian Ski Council in partnership with local ski resorts across Canada.

The winning classes got free transportation to Sun Peaks Resort, complimentary lift passes, skiing or snowboarding lessons and free lunch.
“It was such a close contest between Merritt Bench and Dufferin that we elected to reward both for their hard work!” said Anne Haight, sales and marketing director for Sun Peaks Resort Corporation. “We’re pleased to partner with the CSC and its commitment to growing the sport of skiing and snowboarding. This special day provides us with the opportunity to introduce children that may not otherwise be able to try this fun sport.”

“We always receive class essays that mention how hardly any students have skied or snowboarded before so we know that this program is definitely introducing new skiers and boarders,” said Greg Weeks, spokesperson for the Canadian Ski Council.

The winning entries showed how creative motivated students can be.
Ritcey’s class produced an impressive 28-page book that included a word puzzle.

“I gave each group a chapter and they wrote. They did little pictures to go with it. We even have room for future pictures,” she added.

The project wasn’t only fun for the students.

“I really enjoyed reading it because it was so funny,” said Ritcey. “One group wrote ‘Mrs. Ritcey worked us so hard; she’s got us busy as elves. We just work, work, work. We need fresh air. We need a day off and so does Mrs. Ritcey.’”

Both teachers realized this is more than about winning a contest.

“We really learned a lot. We learned about not only skiing and snowboarding safety but essay writing and how to put together a finished product to enter into a contest,” said Ellingsen.

A skier, Ellingsen thinks it’s great that young people can explore winter sports. “They can get out, get some fresh air and exercise and not feel like their only choice is to sit around in the house and do nothing.”

“What I appreciate is the goal setting,” said Ritcey. “Not just the goal setting of learning skiing, but the goal setting of our project. We had a plan in mind and we followed it through.”

They say the best skiers and boarders in the world are the ones with the biggest smiles. At the end of the day, the students were definitely smiling.

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