Annual Ponaganset ski trip brings community together

Annual Ponaganset ski trip brings community together

Ninety-six people from the Ponaganset Middle School community enjoyed a fun-filled day of skiing on Feb. 29 at Mount Sunappee in New Hampshire.

For the past 16 years, I have run a Ponaganset Middle School ski field trip. The aim is to introduce a healthy lifetime activity to my students at an affordable price. Taking an entire family to the mountain and paying for lessons and overnight accommodations for a family of three or more is very pricey (in the thousands). Our school ski trips allowed parents to send their child with the option to rent and take lessons with their friends, all in one day, for approximately $100. We used donations from the PTO and CAST, as well as the proceeds from our Chieftain Challenge Road Race, to help provide scholarships for students who wanted to attend, but could not afford it.

I have always enjoyed skiing, as it provides an athletic healthy risk and shot of adrenaline speeding down a hill. The happiness I feel being outdoors and taking in beautiful views from the top of a mountain is contagious! Add the social aspect of traveling with friends and this trifecta cannot be beat.

When I speak to others about my love for the sport, many adults confide they wished they had learned when they were younger. My mom’s first experience skiing was with a CYO group as a teenager, as her family had no interest. I have always tried to give kids this opportunity and encourage them to try something new.

When the field trip law was brought into the spotlight this school year, many of my students were negatively affected. Not only were they missing educational and memorable opportunities, but the students also felt slighted and discouraged. In the Foster-Glocester School District, we have always had a student activity fund that helped provide funding to all families so that no one missed out.

The teachers in our school have not given up. As the chairwoman of the Glocester Recreation Commission, I had a discussion with Mr. Robert Shields, the rec director. Our entire committee, including Steven Arnold, Tom Lemos, Christy Long, and Crystal Charbonneau, all agreed that the entire town would benefit from the opportunity to take a group trip. I organized 96 people, including 21 adults and 75 children.

On Saturday, Feb. 29, we went to Mount Sunappee in New Hampshire. We left on two coach buses at 5:45 a.m. from the Glocester Town Hall and returned at 7:30 p.m. There were no injuries, only happy families and well behaved kids! We are hoping that the field trip law is amended, but in the meantime, I was extremely proud of our community coming together and making memories on the mountain together.

I would also like to give extra credit to my colleague, Mike Ferns, who always runs this trip with me and helped again this year. He grew up in Glocester, and this year, his wife Julie, son Patrick, and daughter Casey all joined us on this trip.

Jamie LaRose

Ponaganset Middle School

Ian Etheridge, left, Ethan Arnold, center, and Camden DeAngelis were able to reach the 2,743-foot summit of Mount Sunapee and enjoy the view.