PCES students will be ‘Going for the Gold’ in WinterKids Winter Games

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GUILFORD — Before athletes from around the world will be representing their countries in PyeongChang, South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics in February, students at Piscataquis Community Elementary School will be representing their county against schools from across Maine in the inaugural WinterKids Winter Games.

When the PCES students return in January they will be competing in four weeks of physical activity and nutrition challenges designed to help them be active in the winter and learn healthy habits. Pupils will earn points along the way — based on percentages of students who participate — as one school from each of Maine’s 16 counties competes to win one of three cash prizes for the institution.

“This is a special morning meeting because we are getting ready for the Winter Olympics,” Principal Anita Wright told the student body during an all-school assembly to start the day on Dec. 21 — the last day of school before the holiday vacation.

“Our elementary school was chosen out of all of Piscataquis County for the WinterKids Winter Games,” School Nurse Wendy Viera said. She then asked the students sitting on the gymnasium bleachers to guess how many counties are in Maine.

“We are competing with 15 elementary schools all across the state,” Viera said. “Our theme is we are ‘Going for the Gold,’” she said, mentioning the WinterKids Winter Games will be starting on Jan. 2 for PCES when the students return to classes.

“The gold medal we are going to win at PCES is $5,000,” Viera said. The WinterKids Winter Games runner-up school will get the silver medal or $3,000 and $2,000 will be awarded to the bronze medal school.

The school nurse said that each week of January will feature a different challenge. Week No. 1 asks the students to take part in outdoor physical activities, either 60 minutes a day or 300 minutes across the week. Viera said the youngsters can get part of the time taken care of with their daily half hour of recess.

The second week of the WinterKids Winter Games features healthy food and nutrition presentations.

“The third week is going to be family involvement,” Viera said. She said on the Martin Luther King Day holiday, the school field will be set up for seasonal activities for students and their families alike to take part.

“The grand finale will be week four when we have a winter carnival day,” Viera said.

She said students will be logging their activities at home, and these statistics will be brought in to be transferred to a classroom tally sheet and PCES totals will be posted in the school lobby. Viera said on Sundays TV station WMTW out of Portland will be sharing statewide results. Standings will also be posted on the WinterKids Winter Games Facebook page as the competition progresses

At the end of the assembly, members of the student council took part in an Olympic torch relay, handing off the replica torch with paper flame and holding various pieces of outdoor recreational equipment to give the students ideas of what they can do outside. The councilors carried skis, ice skates, ice fishing gear, snowshoes and more to get inspired in their quest for the gold next month.

“We’re very excited to be chosen and excited,” Wright said in her office after the assembly. She said PCES has been hosting its own outdoor winter activities for a number of years.

Wright said the now retired grade 6 teacher Rochelle Titcomb would organize the events and her students would help run the activities for their younger peers. “So we always had great fun,” Wright said.

Viera said winter “is our longest season within the school year.” She said WinterKids, a nonprofit organization helping children develop healthy lifelong habits through education and fun outdoor winter activities, teaches that “exercise and fresh air help health and school performance.”

The school nurse said during the first week of January physical education classes may head outside, and other classes may also do likewise. She said a math class could go outside and measure the length of the athletic field using skis.

During the second week of January, PCES officials have worked with Mayo Regional Hospital Community Outreach Coordinator Hillary Starbird to set up various guest speakers to discuss healthy topics with the students. “They are coming in for half an hour to do some hands-on education with them,” Viera said.

Wright said on Martin Luther King Day there is “an invitation for families to come on Monday for a family day at PCES.” Viera said family members joining their students for sledding and snowshoeing will also help the school earn WinterKids Winter Games points.

“The final week is our ‘Winter Carnival Week,’” she said, saying plans are still being finalized for late January. Viera said the school should hear if its pursuit of “Going for the Gold” was successful or landed in the top three around Jan. 29.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
PCES STUDENTS ‘GOING FOR THE GOLD’ — In January students at Piscataquis Community Elementary School in Guilford will be competing against 15 other schools across the state in the inaugural WinterKids Winter Games. During a kickoff assembly on Dec. 21 seventh-grader Kendall Kimball and other members of the student council passed a replica Olympic torch while carrying various types of outdoor gear representing outdoor activities students can take part in to earn points for the WinterKids Winter Games.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
WINTERKIDS WINTER GAMES — For four weeks next month Piscataquis Community Elementary School students will be taking part in the WinterKids Winter Games, earning points for participating in winter activities. Eighth-grader Elizabeth Kendall carries the Olympic torch and a pair of snowshoes during an assembly on Dec. 21.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
HOLDING THE OLYMPIC FLAME — Piscataquis Community Elementary School grade 7 student council member Kayleigh Carson holds the Olympic torch and some ice fishing gear during a Dec. 21 assembly promoting next month’s WinterKids Winter Games. On Martin Luther King Day on Monday, Jan. 15 student families are invited to the school to take part in outdoor activities with the students.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
STANDING ON THE MEDAL PODIUM — Piscataquis Community Elementary School Principal Anita Wright replicates standing on the Olympic podium, while holding the Olympic torch, at the conclusion of a Dec. 21 assembly promoting the school’s January participation in the WinterKids Winter Games.

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