News, Wolcott

Wolcott Elementary Holds “Ikidarod” Reading and Writing Celebration

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Wolcott Elementary students take on roles as “dogs” and “mushers” in the school’s re-enactment of the Iditarod dog sled race.

WOLCOTT – For the past few weeks, third and fourth grade students at Wolcott Elementary have been braving blizzards, crossing treacherous terrain, and racing to the finish in one of the world’s most storied cross-country events. While not physically traversing Alaska from Anchorage to Nome, the young Wolcott mushers were very much steeped in all things Iditarod.

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A Wolcott Elementary student heads uphill to take another run on a perfect late winter afternoon.

Through books, videos and online research, Maureen Hill’s class has learned about the race’s origins rooted in the heroic efforts of sled dog teams’ delivery of life-saving diphtheria serum to Nome during an epidemic in 1925. The students have followed this year’s racers in real time, plotting their progress on a wall-sized map in the school, and have learned about the rigorous training regimen, specialized race equipment, and the importance of teamwork between mushers and their dogs. They even collaborated on a book together, with each student contributing a chapter to “Iditarod 52”, a story about this year’s race to Nome. 

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Responding to calls of “Mush!” students Cyrus McCarty (grade 1), Bailey Carbine-March (grade 1), Aida McCarty (grade 4) and Delia Herman (grade 4) race to the finish.

On Tuesday, March 12, the entire school celebrated with an annual tradition they call “Ikidarod”. Students spent the last hour-plus of their school day outside in late-winter snowpack and warm temperatures, putting on their own sled dog races, playing snow soccer, sledding, and sharing in some much-needed trail sustenance (cookies and hot cocoa).

“I have found sled dog racing, and in particular the history of the Iditarod, to be a great avenue into reading and writing for our students. They are excited to learn about the culture, and the human-canine bond is so relatable for them,” commented Mrs. Hill. While this year’s race is now complete, Wolcott students will forever have their memories of Ikidarod 2024.

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Third-graders Savannah Tatro and Melody Lowell double up to whisk down the Wolcott Elementary sledding hill.

Lisa Stinson is a communications specialist for the Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union.

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