By Debbie Adams
Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders at William Byrd Middle School have been spending class time each week in April at the Lancerlot Sports Complex to learn and/or practice ice skating and swimming.
This program started out in 2019 when the WBMS physical education teachers contacted the Lot’s Health and Fitness Manager Robin Hartman about physical fitness classes their students might be able to participate in at the Lancerlot. PE teacher Jeremy Baldwin coordinated the program along with Lancerlot Assistant Manager Kathleen Sink in the years since.
Baldwin says the teachers “enjoy working with the community to give kids experiences that they otherwise might not be able to have.”
Their goal is to encourage students to participate not just in school sports but in lifelong physical fitness activities.
They settled on ice skating and swimming as the most manageable and the “most fun” activities for large groups of students to enjoy.
This is now the third year for the program (with two years off during COVID). Beginning on April 3, all WBMS students have been given the opportunity to swim during one learning block each week and ice skate during another learning block the following week.
As an added field trip treat, the students will be able to bowl at the Vinton Bowling Center once each week in the last two weeks in April.
Many of the students at the Lancerlot on April 11 were quite adept at skating, due to ice skating and hockey classes offered at the center. A couple spent a while clinging to the ledge around the inside of the ice rink before they gained their confidence. PE teacher Chris Pratt joined them on the ice, while teacher Sara Boxler supervised the group of swimmers.
Lancerlot is enthusiastic about partnering with other schools in the area for similar activities. It charges a minimal fee with special rates for the students and works to accommodate the school schedule with both morning and afternoon sessions for two weeks. The morning session generally lasts from 8:40 to 11:30 a.m. with another group arriving on buses in the afternoon from 12:30 until around 3 p.m.
Sink says some area schools come for the day on field trips, but no other schools have developed the complete program that WBMS has.
The Lancerlot and Vinton Bowling have been amazing to work with,” Baldwin said.