By CAROL SOUTH
Special to the Record-Eagle
TRAVERSE CITY — Wintertime means learning time for aspiring or improving young skiers and snowboarders.
And the Kiwanis Record-Eagle Ski School offers lessons for all levels, from novice kindergarten skier to veteran middle school snowboarder.
The school dates to the mid-1950s and is an institution that trained generations to shine on the slopes. Classes are geared to ages five through middle school, start the first of the year and run through February 7. Classes are held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday each week.
The school offers five weeks of ski instruction and four of snowboard classes. Each ski week is devised for different ages or ability levels, from younger skiers in K-1 grades and ski school for grades 2-8. Snowboard lessons are offered to grades 3-9.
The school's goal is to instill a lifetime love of those winter sports.
"I think it provides the community a tremendous opportunity to introduce kids to snow sports at an incredibly good price," said Theresa Galante, executive director of Mt. Holiday.
Galante attended the school when younger and also has enrolled her own kids in it.
"In three days they learn so quickly," she said of participants.
Mt. Holiday also rents the ski or snowboard equipment. Students simply need to arrive dressed for outdoor recreation.
Many students return to the Kiwanis Record-Eagle Ski School year after year and move up through levels. Others take multiple sessions per year to more quickly boost their skills.
"Anytime we have something that will give kids an opportunity to try skiing, usually once they try it they are hooked," said Jerry Stanek, Traverse City Central High School ski coach. "The Kiwanis and the Grand Traverse Ski Club programs, if it wasn't for them, our ski teams would dry up."
Mike Wolf, director of winter sports instruction for Mt. Holiday, has taught there since 1970. About 200 kids per season come through the program, which used to be two separate schools. Years ago, the Kiwanis and the Record-Eagle schools joined forces as each faced dropping enrollments.
When snowboarding burst on the scene in the 1990s, lessons were very popular but enrollment has since declined.
"We've seen snowboarding drop off in recent years but we don't know why," Wolf noted.
He believes that other available winter options for kids affect the school's attendance.
"When we first started, there were no other ice rinks, no hockey, no YMCA, basketball or cheerleading," Wolf said. "When we started there was nothing else to do in the winter."
For more information, see www.mt-holiday.com or call 938-2500.