The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Ontonagon students take part in annual Winter Recreation Day


Submitted photo

Ontonagon Area Schools sixth-graders Nicole Lukkari, from left, Katie Fredrickson, Ella Menigoz, Teddy Menigoz and Mystere Zimmerman take a breather during the 28th annual Winter Recreation Day at the Porcupine Mountain Ski Area on Feb. 7.

ONTONAGON - Around 80 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students from the Ontonagon Area Schools enjoyed the 28th annual Winter Recreation Day at the Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park ski area on Feb. 6.

Whether downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing or cross country skiing, the students and chaperones enjoyed beautiful weather and outstanding hill conditions at the Porkies.

The Winter Recreation Day tradition got started during the winter of 1987-'88 when Ontonagon principal Thomas Hartzell suggested junior high advisors come up with some sort of winter activity day for the kids.

The first trip was organized with the help of the Mass City-Greenland Mountain Lions at the fairgrounds in Greenland, using the skating rink, ski hill, a custom-made cross country ski trail tracked by one of the students and the empty field where the race track now stands.

More than 150 seventh and eighth graders spent the day playing in the snowing, including a game of Earth Ball game (picture soccer with an eight-foot diameter canvas ball). The day ended with the Klondike dash, a free-for-all foot race across the snow-covered field to crown the Klondike king and queen.

After, Hartzell, an avid skier, suggested they move future events to the Porkies ski area and reduce the available activities to skiing and snowshoeing.

Winter Recreation Day has become an annual tradition that students, staff and chaperones anticipate weeks in advance. Sixth graders were added seven years ago.

Junior high students fundraise annually to help defray the costs of equipment rental and lift tickets. Civic organizations have also given money to help cover busing and other costs.

Students who have little or no experience with winter sports are offered an introductory lesson. This insures no one goes out on the big hill without the three basic skiing skills required: Turning, stopping, and when to fall down.

While some students enjoy the ski hill, Ranger Bob Wild leads the snowshoers on a trek through the park.


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