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Ski trip rewards Heartland students
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Ski trip rewards Heartland students

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乐动体育When Selma’s Heartland High School social science Teacher Joseph Coats realized students at his school hadn’t taken a field trip during the 10 years he’s worked there, he knew it was time to make a change.

乐动体育Planning a China Peak snow trip would take a lot of faith, though. Faith that there would be snow in the mountains and faith that the alternative high school students would step up to earn the trip.

“This is the first time the school’s ever done something like this,” Coats said. “We have a lot of turnover.”

Coats said the idea was to use the trip to motivate students to keep up their attendance, stay on task, keep earning credits and have an experience they normally don’t get to have.

“We’re always looking for incentives,” Coats said. “For me, this was just about giving students an opportunity other students get and a chance to take advantage of something near. We really have beautiful mountains here.”

Coats said he also realizes many of the students have simply never had the opportunity to visit the snow. Not a single student even had a pair of gloves.

乐动体育“Of the 22 kids we took, only one had ever put on skis or snowboarded before. None of our kids had the gear to do this,” he said. 

So, after coordinating with staff at Dinuba’s alternative school Sierra Vista to borrow equipment and snow gear, getting approval from district officials and finding enough ski gear to outfit everyone safely, the trip was set for Feb. 26. The school was also able to completely finance the trip.

“You have to have all your trips requested by August or September and we didn’t even know if we’d have snow.”

乐动体育One hurdle was leaving early enough to get there in time for the professional lessons. That can be tough to ask of any teenager, Coats said.

“Commitment’s tough with all students. We asked them to be here at 6 a.m. and all but one student showed.”

Geared up with proper clothing, Heartland’s staff also took some advice from Sierra Vista’s staff to take advantage of the professional lesson early in the day to get in as much ski time as possible and wait until they were down from the mountain to avoid carsickness from the twisting mountain roads.

“We decided to stop off at the Pizza Factory in Auberry rather than eat there because kids get sick on the drive home. It’s very, very winding and they’re not used to it. It’s one of the more physically demanding days any of our kids experience,” Coats said.

乐动体育Students who went said it was a little tricky at first to learn how to start, stop and keep their balance. However, after an hour or so of practice, they were up to the challenge of getting up the hill for the thrill of swooshing down the slopes.

乐动体育Coats said more than half took the lift up the hill and made the trip down the mountain.

乐动体育“Everybody was happy. They ate good, had fun and now the talk is, what can we do now?” he said of a possible beach trip for either this year or next.

“It’s work to get all the stuff and equipment off you,” said senior Jesus Garza. “It was really cool how the school paid for everything so it was free for us, but we had to earn it.”

Senior Estelle Montes said even though it was cold at first, they started warming up once they began skiing. 

“Once you got the equipment on, it was hot,” she said. “I’m not really good at it. It’s hard.”

Senior Joseph Estrada tried snowboarding during the trip and said he was excited to go.

“I liked everything about it. It was pretty fun. They took extra kids and I happened to be one of the extras.”

乐动体育Senior Miguel Rodriguez said he noticed that some of the students gave up too soon.

乐动体育“Some people missed out on a good time because they got tired right away and they didn’t get to have fun. They quit.”

乐动体育Sophomore Starr Quintana said she thought it was worth it to brave the trip to the top.

“Some of the kids gave up, but I went to the top of the mountain. My friends were like, ‘you only live once, you might as well go for it.’ All the kids took off and I said, ‘I can do it.’ ”

Coats said he hopes the students’ work for the trip helps others realize they’re just as capable as students at traditional school settings.

“It shocks most people when they see how goofy and normal our kids are. Sometimes people look at alternative education sites and think, ‘those are bad kids or dangerous kids,’ but not at all.”

The majority of students attending the alternative setting are there to make up credits so they can graduate high school on time, Coats said.

“That’s the main thing kids say, that they know everybody here and feel comfortable here. Here, the teachers give the students a lot more individualized attention and time, and kids like that.”

The reporter can be reached at 583-2427 or lbrown@selmaenterprise.com

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