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Two Waldo County schools go for gold in WinterKids 2020

By Fran Gonzalez | Jan 07, 2020
Photo by: Fran Gonzalez Principal Dawn Moore rallies students at Leroy H. Smith School Jan. 3, after announcing that the school will compete in the WinterKids program this month.

Winterport —

The gymnasium at Leroy H. Smith School was rollicking Friday as students cheered Principal Dawn Moore’s announcement — their school would compete in the annual WinterKids Winter Games this month.

The outdoor physical activity and nutrition competition is in its third year and encourages young children to develop healthy habits over the course of the four-week program. Each week the program will feature specific challenges, and the percentage of students who complete the challenge will determine how many points each school receives.

Schools compete to earn as many points as possible for the grand prize of $5,000 donated to their school. In total 7,332 students and 1,113 teachers and staff from every county in Maine (two schools per county) will participate in the Winter Games.

Moore said this was her school's first year competing and students would need to “learn quickly.” She also said she was very excited and looking forward to the competition.

The timing was tough, she said, finding out they were chosen to compete right before Christmas break, but she added that the kids are really excited. “January can be a dark and cold month,” she said, “This gives a renewed feeling and will bring some new life to this month.

“Getting kids outside is important for their brains,” she said. “We will incorporate some fun activities to get them in the fresh air. It’s all for fun and anytime you can incorporate education into it, it is great with us.”

Ames Elementary School in Searsmont, last year’s Silver Medal winner, kicked off its celebration Jan. 7.

Second grade teacher Briana Brennick attributed Ames' success last year to the high level of participation by everyone.

"It's all about getting everyone engaged," she said. "The key to doing well is, we had such a great turnout by parents and by the community as a whole."

Ames Principal Lori Smail said the students appreciated the collaborative effort by all the teachers and felt the content piece was important. The idea that you are not sitting in a classroom, she said, and that you can learn anywhere, captured children's imaginations.

Brennick added, "Also that staying healthy can be fun."

This year’s theme is STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math). Past winners include Searsport Elementary School in Waldo County and Dayton Consolidated School in York County.

The Winter Games will close Jan. 31 and winners will be announced Feb. 6. In addition to the $5,000 grand prize, there is $3,000 for Silver, and $1,500 for Bronze, plus numerous equipment and field trip prizes for participating schools.

WinterKids is run by a nonprofit organization with the same name, and is funded by grants and private donations.

Students at Leroy H. Smith School celebrate the announcement Jan. 3 that their school will compete in the WinterKids competition this month. (Photo by: Fran)
Students at Leroy H. Smith school wait for the assembly to begin Jan. 3. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
Leroy H. Smith students wear snowflakes on their coats and hats at the WinterKids 2020 kickoff Jan. 3. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
Leroy H. Smith School students sit crisscross applesauce-style Jan. 3 at an assembly in their gymnasium. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
Educational technicians Nichole Harvey, left, and Deborah Smith dress as fruit to illustrate healthy snacks at the Leroy H. Smith School WinterKids competition kickoff Jan. 3. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
Kindergarten teacher Nandrea Patterson, dressed as a pea pod, stands with her class at the Leroy H. Smith School WinterKids competition kickoff Jan. 3. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
District Nutrition Director Kathy Kittridge wears a milk container costume, as she leads students back to school after the outside parade at Leroy H. Smith School in celebration of competing in WinterKids Jan. 3. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
Students at Leroy H. Smith in Winterport release snow into the air Jan. 3 at an assembly announcing their school being chosen to compete in the WinterKids program this month. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
Students at Ames Elementary School in Searsmont kickoff the WinterKids 2020 competition with an assembly Jan. 7. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
Ames Elementary School students cheer at the Jan. 7 assembly announcing their school's participation in the 2020 WinterKids Games competition. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
An assembly at Ames Elementary School in Searsmont Jan. 7 where Principal Lori Smail announced the school would compete in the WinterKids 2020 competition. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
Students pose with flags and signs at the Ames Elementary School assembly Jan. 7. Principal Lori Smail announced at the event Ames school would be competing in the WinterKids program this month. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
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