Students cross country ski

Mansfield first grade students enjoy the warmer weather in March for their cross country skiing class. From left, are Devlin McGraw, Jayvion Rogers, Hunter Schmidt, Valeria Martinez, Jeffrey Hemmer, Cailyn Moore, Junior Rodriquez, Leslie Haney and Tristan McDonald. (Provided photo/Marie Goulet)


By Adrienne Douke
Empire Press Correspondent

Since 2015, Mansfield School has had cross country skiing in its physical education curriculum. Art teacher Marie Goulet and retired physical education teacher Paulette Bridgewater teamed up to offer cross country skiing as a winter sports alternative, and it caught on quickly.

“We began with the middle school students, and they enjoyed it,” Goulet said.

The two teachers found sets of ski equipment for older children and improvised with some of what they had for younger students.

“Thanks go out to Orondo School Principal Lance Young, who graciously loaned our school 15 sets of little kid ski equipment,” Goulet said. “We were able to get kindergarten through fourth grade into equipment that actually fit them, and we made good use of it.”

Reruns Thrift Shop in Chelan Falls also donated skis, boots and poles, and helped update some of the old gear.

Cross country skiing provides a fun way to enhance balance and coordination skills.

First-grader Hunter Schmidt said, “I liked skiing because it was fun, you can move real fast on them. It’s also funny when you fall.”

Even kids who were initially timid learned fairly quickly how to control their skis.

“I loved cross country skiing because it was something new that I had never tried before,” said Joyce McGraw, a fifth grade student. “It was fun just being able to get the rhythm of sliding across the snow.”

Pretty soon it became an anticipated activity that classmates and friends enjoyed together.

“The whole idea was to introduce something new into the mix — and it worked,” Goulet said.

Goulet, a lifelong cross country skier, enjoyed sharing her knowledge about the sport with the students. Watching them learn and become confident with their skiing abilities was a rewarding experience.

“As a teacher, by profession, I truly enjoyed watching them learn a new skill and have fun doing it,” Goulet said.

Even better was that the class was economical for the school.

“Other than borrowing the skiing equipment, cross country skiing didn’t require traveling anywhere, we could use the football field,” Goulet added. “No lift tickets, we could have fun right here at school. So that’s exactly what we did.”

Winter sports can be lots of fun, and gives enthusiasts something to do with all the snow winter brings.

The kids caught on quickly, and pretty soon they were striding out and covering ground.

Getting up after falling is probably the most difficult skill to learn in skiing. Goulet could eventually stand back, give advice and let the students learn for themselves.

“Pretty soon, they were getting up with no help from me,” Goulet said.

“We think it’s great that our kids are being exposed to cross country skiing and getting an opportunity to learn a new winter sport,” Mansfield School Principal Shane Bird said. “While we believe classroom learning is important, we also believe that this type of activity complements classroom learning. We appreciate Ms. Goulet’s efforts.”

For more information about how to donate cross country equipment, contact Goulet at the school.