In the life of a 5-year-old, the ability to walk is only a recent skill. At Forsyth, we ask our youngest students to put their walking feet into ice skates and challenge themselves to give skating a try. Most of our Missouri 5-year-olds have never been ice skating and they quickly figure out that it is not as easy as the Olympians make it look. Teachers say the confidence that builds inside their students in a short, one-hour time frame is worth gold. They go from hanging onto the wall to clutching the plastic walkers to skating with a teacher or parent to skating independently. Spills and falls happen, but the desire to get back up and try again is what this experience is all about.
Ice skating has been an important part of the Forsyth curriculum for more than 30 years. Decades ago, P.E. was not part of the daily schedule for our early childhood students so Forsyth students piled into 12-passenger vans and teachers would take them for 6 weeks of ice skating lessons. Students used orange parking cones for support on the ice. Forsyth alumni often talk about their first memories of ice skating being with their Forsyth friends and teachers. Grade 1 teacher Donna Militello photo left with Marina Hoag skating in 1991.
Currently, Junior-Kindergarten goes ice skating twice in the winter and Senior-Kindergarten goes three times to the Brentwood Ice Rink. Both grades go for consecutive weeks so students can build their confidence without forgetting what they learned the week prior. By the third skating session, Senior-Kindergartners don't use walkers at all. In addition to building confidence, ice skating helps with coordination and even teaches students what the word "clockwise" means since all skaters need to move around the rink in the same direction.
Ice Skating at Forsyth is for big kids, too. Grades 4 and 5 have an annual winter party at an ice rink before the start of Winter Break. Also, the FFO has hosted Skate Break, an annual ice skating party for all families on a weekend day, for the past twenty years. From those first moments of courage to independence, ice skating remains at the top of the podium in the culture at Forsyth School.