‘On the Right Track’ | SummitDaily.com

‘On the Right Track’

Summit Daily/Reid Williams Summit Middle School sixth-graders Dusty Giofu (seated) and Aaron Redner (at right) watch as Copper Mountain ski patrollers Courtney Wiedel and Adam Babcock shoot a tennis ball from an avalauncher across Tucker Bowl in a demonstration of avalanche control work.

COPPER MOUNTAIN – A tennis ball, when loaded into an avalauncher and fired with compressed gas across a mountain valley, makes quite a “whoomph.” It is quickly drowned out and forgotten, however, as the sixth-graders watching get even more fired up.

“Awesome!” shouted Summit Middle School student Matty Baldwin, an evaluation articulated just as loudly by his classmates.Baldwin and five other sixth-graders were treated to the spectacle Thursday as part of Summit Middle School’s “On the Right Track” program. Created more than a decade ago by long-time educator and outdoors enthusiast Gary Reinking, the program offers experience and exposure to students who meet academic goals throughout the year. But it’s not just the top students – the program also requires good behavior, citizenship and other model attributes, certified by all their teachers, in addition to passing grades.

Over the years, the program has grown to include more and more students – and more exciting activities. Now, between 150 and 200 students a year will go on rafting and camping trips, to Colorado Rockies baseball games, to the U.S. Olympic Training Facility, to Hanging Lakes on photography excursions and, this year, to the X Games in Aspen.”Once a month, there’s an opportunity to do something,” said Kay Kirkland, the students’ chaperone on Thursday. “Part of the goal of the program, beyond something fun as a reward, is for the students to see different jobs that are out there.”

Patroller Nick Pollard, a veteran at working with kids from 10 years of summer camp work, has organized Copper Mountain’s involvement in the program for the past four years. He and fellow patroller Scott Billeisen show students the rudiments of avalanche control work, dog rescues and evacuate the students from a lift.”They get to see things they normally wouldn’t, and every kid has something different that’s their favorite part about it,” Pollard said.

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or at rwilliams@summitdaily.com.

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