Summit students experience ski patrol for being ‘on the right track’ |

Summit students experience ski patrol for being ‘on the right track’

Summit Daily/Mark Fox

Five children were buried in holes atop Copper Mountain on Thursday.

It was all play, and a trial run for Scout, Copper’s avalanche dog, but it was the first time any of the youths had experienced being dug out by a dog trained for the occasion.

Scout quickly and eagerly dug the Summit Middle School students out of the holes, grabbing a glove and running back to his handler, Rich Silkey.

The wind blew the new snow on the ridge above the Super Bee lift and by ski patrol headquarters into a whiteout on several occasions as the five eighth graders experienced their “On the Right Track” reward day for having good behavior and good performance in school.

It was a chance to shadow two ski patrollers, set aside for the day by Copper Mountain, which has been the longest supporter of the school’s program, said Gary Reinking, organizer and computer tech teacher at the middle school.

“The support of Copper Mountain is amazing,” Reinking said, explaining that they comp the lift tickets and take two patrollers out of the rotation for the day.

Mooie Davis, the patroller heading up the day’s activities, said the youths saw patrollers setting explosives, participated in setting up a “slow” sign, visited the motor room of a chairlift system, practiced using a beacon, probe and shovel, and experienced a lift evacuation, among other activities. Sixth and seventh graders visited Copper the days prior for the same reward program.

“Hanging out with patrol for the day is a very popular” activity in the school’s program, Davis said. Other activities include rafting, taking photos at Penguin Lake, visiting hot springs, skating at the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs, going to the X Games, visiting Invesco Field, rock climbing, going to Colorado Rockies games, seeing the play “A Christmas Carol” in Denver and more.

“We try to meet every kid and every kid’s interest,” volunteer coordinator and teacher Rachel Boekhout said. The program has been going for more than two decades, Reinking said. It’s had the continued support of six principals who find money in their budget to continue to fund it.

As far as the eighth graders were concerned, they said they most enjoyed trying their hand at towing each other in a toboggan.

“There were times the sled got away from you,” Sabrina Knott said.

Two of the students, Mystic Currey and KCD McCauley, were new to the program, having recently moved from Idaho and Japan, respectively. Brianna Rix had participated in several activities in her middle school years.

For River Iannaccone, the beacon work was his favorite.

“I ride the backcountry a lot, so it’s good to get out there and practice with those tools,” he said.

They all agreed it’s fun to see what the patrollers do on a daily basis, and all said it looked like hard work.

The students were chosen from a pool of youths who have shown they have consistent good behavior and pass their classes at school.

“(The program) recognizes kids who come every day,” Reinking said, adding that the students need to regularly show up on time, do their work and have good behavior.

It’s an opportunity to recognize students who aren’t necessarily among the top achievers but who put in a good effort, he said.

As far as the program’s success in bolstering good performance overall, Reinking said it’s “sometimes a battle getting them just hooked on the program,” but once they experience an activity, they’re eager to come back.

The hope is that the activity promotes school pride and motivation to do better and keep a positive attitude in the school, Reinking said.

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