CK Ski School offered as extracurricular option

CK Ski School Director David Keller has had students call him from inside snow banks. Sometimes it happens during lessons, when the snow is light and fluffy.

But somehow it doesn’t keep students away from participating. Last year, 215 students took part in the extracurricular ski school. Since 1969, Central Kitsap School District students have had the opportunity to learn how to ski and snowboard through the CK Ski School.

“Stevens Pass is a very safe mountain,” he said, noting it is well patrolled. Students are also required to ski with a buddy.

Starting in December, students in the school will head to Stevens Pass every Saturday for eight weeks to learn how to ski or snowboard. Levels vary from beginner to expert, and the school is open to students in fifth through twelfth grades. During an informational meeting on Tuesday evening, parents and students learned about the school and asked questions.

Despite some of the risk involved with the sport, Keller reassured parents that he and two other directors patrol the mountain, along with ski patrol, to keep an eye on the kids. He also gives everyone his cell number in case of an emergency, and staff are on hand to administer first aid, if needed.

Heather Hudson’s son went through the school for the first time last year as a ninth grader. As a result, she has seen his confidence bloom. He picked up boarding, just like his father.

“He was so excited to go. The instructors there are phenomenal” she said. “Within the first day he had the confidence.”

Hudson said she was floored when she watched a video of her son flying down a mountainside after one of his lessons. She said she “couldn’t believe that was my son” when she saw the video because of how comfortable he looked on his board.  This year, Hudson’s sixth grade daughter, Claire, will participate in the school. A few of her friends plan to join her as well. She will pick boarding up, like her father and brother.

“It sorta runs in my family,” she said.

Except for her mother, who remarked, “ I don’t like the speed.”

The two attended the Tuesday meeting at CK Junior High, excited to learn more about the gear, sport and school lessons provided.

“The thing I’m completely looking forward to is having fun with everyone else and learning how to snowboard,” said the sixth grader.

The school is open to students across the county—from South Kitsap to North Kitsap—but the CK School District rules and responsibilities apply to those students, too. Students travel in their respective age groups on the buses. Fifth through ninth graders leave from Central Kitsap Junior High School, and tenth through twelfth graders leave from the senior parking lot of Central Kitsap High School on the days of travel.

Keller, who runs the program and is a CK Junior High counselor, offered the “sticker shock” to parents to let them know it isn’t a cheap sport to participate in.

“Skiing is an expensive sport,” he warned audience members.

For the school, two costs are involved: transportation and mountain fees. Transportation costs $260 per student. Mountain fees cover the costs of lift access and lessons, and the pricing varies, depending on the student’s age. Students age 15 and younger will pay $471. Those 16 and older will pay $501.

That doesn’t include the cost of food or the rental or purchase of gear. However, this year, Stevens Pass is offering a free season pass to all fifth grade students.

Keller has been involved in the sport since seventh grade, and hopes parents see the value of their child participating in the sport.

“I think it’s just an amazing environment to be in,” he said. “It’s an expensive sport, but it’s a fun sport.”

The days are long, and students can expect to start boarding buses shortly after 5 a.m. and return to Silverdale at around 7:30 in the evening. Students are encouraged to bring snacks and entertainment, and most kids start the day in pajama bottoms and change once they get to the lodge, Keller said. Clearly labeling gear and decorating bags with ribbons is a good way to easily pick out personal gear after a long day on the slopes.

To participate, the next mandatory meeting is Dec. 10 at Central Kitsap Junior High from 5 to 8 p.m. where students and parents can ask more questions and sign up for the school. Sign-ups for the school will also happen at that time.


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