The Questa Independent School District (QISD) successfully provided access to free winter sports opportunities to all students during the 2022/ 2023 winter ski and snowboarding season. March 1 was the last day for this program.
The Lift Fund awarded $25,000 to the Questa School’s Experiential Learning Program last year which primarily funded the Snow Sports Program. Approximately 180 students participated in the Snow Sports Program weekly.
In an interview with the Questa del Rio News, Principal Kimber MacDonald explained the benefits of the Snow Sports Program. She even called a few students into the interview so they could give their personal input on the program.
“At Alta Vista we send about 140 kids a week and at the high school, we send about 80 kids a week… and they get lessons for free, rentals for free, lift tickets for free, and transportation for free.” In total, there were four trips to the Red River Ski Area at no cost to the students. Alongside the Lift Grant, the Red River Ski Area offered a discounted price to QISD.
Although many students live less than 20 miles from the Red River ski area, many do not participate in winter sports due to limited access. The average cost of participating in winter sports ranges from $800-$1300 per person and with rising inflation hitting households, this cost is not always feasible for many parents.
“The idea of the program is to make more accessible sports than can be prohibitive because they are costly,” Principal MacDonald elaborated. There is an academic requirement for students in the program prohibiting failing grades among students participating. As with all student athletes, snow sports participants must maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average.
“It’s cheaper than taking [the kids] anywhere else and we’re fortunate that we’re 11 miles away from the ski area,” Principal MacDonald acknowledged.
Our interview was during the lunch hour and four students (Adam, Noah, Alexis, and Marlena) graciously joined Principal Kimber in her office to join the conversation with the Questa del Rio News.
“I like that it gives us an opportunity to learn outside of school and it builds more bonds with your classmates,” said Adam.
“Do you feel like you’ve gained skills,” Principal MacDonald asked Adam.
“Yeah, I think I’ve gained a lot of skills from skiing,” Adam responded.
“I think it’s perfect for us,” said Noah. “I just learned a lot of stuff this year.”
Principal MacDonald asked, “Why do you think it’s perfect for where we live?”
“Not a lot of kids, like in the cities, get to do this stuff,” Noah responded. “We get to do it every weekend or any week we try to.”
“I think our skiing gives us an opportunity to get out and about because there’s not a whole lot to do around here,” said Alexis. “It’s also like a mental health day for students because it gets them out and in a different environment.”
“I want to know how you guys feel about it being tied to your grades,” said Principal MacDonald, addressing the students more generally.
“I think it pushes kids because it gives them something to look forward to,” said Marlena.
Principal MacDonald made sure to clearly inform Adam, Noah, Alexis, and Marlena about why they were called into her office and why we were asking them questions; all four students agreed to be mentioned in this article and we have omitted the kids’ surnames.
“I feel like this program brings so much joy and re-energization to students and staff,” said Principal MacDonald. “It’s definitely a net win for instruction, they come back ready to learn, and they’re motivated to keep their grades up. It started as a club years ago with a multitude of staff members taking on responsibility in coordinating it. After COVID we were really looking for ways to get kids outside and active, so the Board decided to put full funding behind it last year. This year we sought grant funding.”