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Student Trailblazers! Killington Elementary School students enjoy Thursday afternoons on the slopes

Photo by Polly Lynn
Maggie Rice, and her Trailblazer group from Killington Elementary School, skied with Selectman Jim Haff and Killington Resort President Mike Solimano last Thursday, Jan. 17.

Rice and Solimano are pictured together after a brief interview near the top of Skye Peak.

KES kindergartners through sixth graders enjoy afternoons of skiing and riding on Killington Mountain, Thursdays throughout the winter. KES students have already participated in the first two KES Trailblazer Days of the season, on Jan. 10 and Jan. 17, with the help of more than 30 volunteer instructors, including parent coaches and chaperones, Vermont Adaptive instructors, Killington Mountain School students acting as ski/ride assistants and equipment transporters. There are nine scheduled Trailblazer days Jan.-March this winter.

"This program, a vital part of our physical education program, encourages healthful exercise to last a lifetime and builds community within our school population," said KES Principal Loren M. Pepe, in a recent newsletter. "It offers many of our students an opportunity to learn to ski and ride that they would not otherwise experience." 

Killington and Pico Mountain Resorts offer students at KES affordable passes, which is crucial to making this program successful, and school-wide. Additionally, KES counts on parents and other community volunteers to help equip and outfit students in need and to help lead the program.

"I would have been a much better skier today, if I had grown up with a program like this," said Killington Resort President Mike Solimano, who joined a group of 5th and 6th grade Trailblazers for the afternoon, Jan. 17. "I'm glad all elementary students here in Killington have the opportunity to learn to ski or ride… that's important."

The Trailblazer program at Killington Elementary began decades ago and has been a strong part of the KES curriculum and experience ever since.

"They've been doing this for over twenty years, since before I was a student at Killington Elementary," said parent and selectman Chris Bianchi in Ramshead Lodge, Jan. 17.

"It's so much fun to ski with friends... we are lucky here in Killington," said 5th grader Maggie Rice, student correspondent for The Mountain Times.

Rice was able to interview President Mike Solimano near the top of Skye Peak before their final run down, last Thursday.

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Q & A with Mike Solimano
By Maggie Rice, student correspondent for The Mountain Times

Maggie Rice: When did you learn how to ski?
Mike Solimano: When I was in college.

Rice: Do your kids ski? Did you teach them?
Solimano: Yes, I taught them and, yes, they do ski.
Rice: How important are ski programs like this for Vermont kids and ski resorts?
Solimano: Very important.
Rice: Would you encourage other schools to do a ski program too?
Solimano: Yes, I would and I want my kids at Rutland to do it too.
Rice: One last question, what is your favorite run?
Solimano: I enjoy Cascade a lot.