On Stands Now
February 2024

Questa  •  Red River  •  Cerro  •  Costilla  •  Amalia  •  Lama  •  San Cristobal

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Courtesy Photo Questa students pose for a photo while shredding on the mountain

Questa Continues Commitment to Access for Questa Students through Snow Sports Program

Courtesy Photo Liam and his friend ride the chairlift up the mountain

The Questa Independent School District (QISD) Snow Sports Program is wrapping up another successful year on the slopes at the Red River Ski Area. The Snow Sports Program is a part of the district’s Outdoor Experiential Education program, providing students access to exploring the outdoors that surround them.
The program is paid for by the district and the school works to obtain grants to supplement the cost. The district implements it into coursework for students in K-12. While the Red River Ski Area provides passes for students at a discounted rate, the district recognized that even with the discount, participation is not affordable for some families, which encouraged the district to pursue this opportunity for students to participate at no cost.

The QISD Outdoor Experiential Education Program is a budding program that builds on the efforts of several staff and community members to bring purposeful outdoor activities for students.”Some students participate in outdoor activities with their families, such as hunting, fishing, farming, and ranching, but many don’t have the same access or opportunities, which could limit their education regarding the heritage and history of these traditions and the land where they live,” says Kimber Macdonald, Principal at Questa Jr./ Sr. High School. ”We recognized that a vast majority of our students face barriers to many opportunities that are available to the tourists that visit our area. We committed to our budget as a district, and partnered with other funders, to erase these barriers, and to ensure all our students can participate.”

The district’s largest program is the Winter Snow Sports program, partnering with the Red River Ski Area in providing four trips for student skiers and snowboarders annually. Every student in the district is provided lessons, rentals, transportation, lunch, and a day pass free of charge to them or their family for all four trips.

Liam Martinez is a 5th grader at Alta Vista Elementary School and he spoke with the Questa del Rio News about his experience with the program. “I’ve participated since I was in the first grade. I am a snowboarder.” When asked how he likes the program, Liam says “it’s fun and it takes some skills and practice. I have had to get used to balancing on my feet, on the board when they’re strapped in,” he says. Liam is happy to have the opportunity to participate in the program with the school. “Me and my friends really enjoy it, and we hope the program continues. We would be very sad if it ended.”

While making memories and having fun is a big part of the experience, Liam says the confidence he has gained has been a big part of the experience. “I have gotten more confident because I have to be brave on the slopes. My advice to any kids wanting to snowboard is to be safe and patient because you will need to practice. Don’t give up and don’t hit anyone. Try not to stop in the middle of the mountain because safety and being considerate of other people is important. Also, don’t think negative thoughts. Just keep going until you learn how.”

In addition to the Ski Sports Program, the district is excited to announce they are expanding their Wilderness Program. The Wilderness Program takes students from grades PreK-8 on guided hikes and other outdoor experiences, including river rafting and public land clean-up days, partnering with the Carson National Forest and the Rio Grande del Norte Monument staff to provide instruction and access. In the classroom, students are taught both the science behind their experiences, as well as hands-on outdoor skills such as building traps, shelters, and other survival skills. This year, the district has added high school science experiences for both agriculture and biology classes to do field work in learning about acequias and water quality testing.

“Future plans for the program include creating outdoor learning spaces on our campuses, as well as exploring the creation of a mountain bike program,” Kimber says. For more information about any of the districts programs, or to partner with the school as they work to expand opportunities for students, please reach out to Kimber MacDonald at kmacdonald@questa.k12.nm.us