WINTERPORT — Leroy H. Smith School is going for gold in the fifth annual WinterKids Winter Games which took place Jan. 17 through Feb. 11. The school enjoyed a winter carnival Feb. 10 to mark the end of four weeks of competition.

The program, designed to get kids outside and instill healthy habits during the bleakest part of winter, took on an Olympics theme this year. The winning school will receive $10,000, the second school will get $7,500 and third place will receive $5,000 in a schoolwide prize ceremony.  Points are awarded based on percentage of school participation, number of activities completed, non-teaching staff participation, guest speaker involvement and weekly “moment of the week” submissions.

Students at Leroy H. Smith School enjoy hockey activities Feb. 10 at their winter carnival, held to wrap up WinterKids. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Third grade teacher Hillary Hoyt, who helped organize the school effort along with kindergarten teacher Hannah Hotham, said schools could either choose to play along at their own pace or participate on a competitive track. All of her school is participating in the competitive track, she said.

Two years ago, Hotham said, the school was tied for first with three other schools and lost in the finals. “We got a lot of honorable mentions,” she added. This year Leroy Smith is tied for first with two other schools and the margin between first and second place, where five schools are tied, is one point. 

Students race using cross-country ski poles Feb. 10 at the Leroy H. Smith winter carnival. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

On Monday, Feb. 14, she said, the school will find out whether it is the 2022 winner or another tie-breaker will be needed. Last year, because of COVID-19, Hoyt said, individual classes within the school could compete and her class and Hotham’s took part in the program.

Leroy H. Smith School third grade teacher Hillary Hoyt, at left in yellow hat, listens to Rolando Luna, out of frame at right, explain equipment used in playing hockey Feb. 10. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

This year Leroy Smith is the only Waldo County school taking part in the competitive program along with 21 other schools across the state. Each week schools participate in different challenges that include physical activity, nutrition, family engagement and the last week is the  winter carnival.

Maddie Frank, at right, a member of the Hampden Academy Alpine Ski racing team, high-fives Leroy H. Smith students Feb. 10. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Hotham said it is important to keep kids active, and help them discover that even in the middle of winter, there are plenty of activities to do outside. Hoyt said family night turned out to be a big success this year, even with the pouring rain that night.

This year’s activities at the winter carnival included snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding and hockey, and members of the Hampden Academy Ski team gave tips and answered questions on Alpine skiing. 

Kim Raymond, school counselor, who was dressed as a bee, the school’s official mascot, said it is fun to see the kids’ excitement. “We are really happy to be given the opportunity to participate again,” she said.

Principle Dawn Moore said students, staff and community have been learning by doing throughout the four-week program. “WinterKids has provided us an amazing opportunity to learn about winter sports/activities, healthy foods, community engagement and best of all, how to have fun in the winter,” she said.

Hoyt said everybody at the school, from the custodial staff to the cafeteria staff, and even Moore, was outside at the carnival, “making it fun for the kids.” 

“I think we are really lucky because of that,” she said. 

For more information and pictures of activities at Leroy H. Smith School competing in WinterKids Winter Games, visit #WINTERisoursPORT on Facebook.

Leroy H. Smith students enjoy sledding fun at the Feb. 10 winter carnival. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Leroy H. Smith students listen to a member of the Hampden Academy Alpine Ski racing team speak about the sport Feb. 10 at the winter carnival. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Students learn about snowshoeing Feb. 10 at the Leroy H. Smith winter carnival. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Students watch as classmates compete in a cross-country skiing race Feb. 10 at the Leroy H. Smith winter carnival. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Guest speaker Rolando Luna talks about his experience as a hockey goalie while in school Feb. 10 at Leroy H. Smith winter carnival. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Sledding fun at Leroy H. Smith’s winter carnival Feb. 10. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Sledding fun at Leroy H. Smith’s winter carnival Feb. 10. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

A Leroy H. Smith student smiles as he sleds in the winter carnival on Feb. 10. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

It takes a steady hand to keep from coming off the sled at the Leroy H. Smith winter carnival Feb. 10. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Leroy H. Smith School winter carnival Feb. 10. Photo by Fran Gonzalez