Sled dogs visit Marlborough second-graders
By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Six sled dogs, several mushers, top quality dogsledding gear, and a beautiful sunny day made for a wonderful educational outdoor program for the second-grade students at the Francis Kane Elementary School.
“The second-graders have to study habitats which include the Arctic Regions,” explained second-grade teacher Melissa Tirpak. “In following curriculum standards, we chose the Iditarod [Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska] to help us encompass literacy, math, science and more. In following the dogs, the race and all that went along with the competition, there was so much learning taking place. The students just loved it.”
The students were introduced to the components of the sled, the harnesses, learned how the sled is packed, the vocabulary associated with running a mushing team, the reasons for the position of the dogs, and other facts about dogsledding.
Six dogs visited the students from Northern Exposure Outfitters, a sled dog business in Massachusetts owned by the Vitello Family. Their names were Moose, Summitt, Chubs, Heinj, Chein and Godfather.
Eileen Vitello, her husband, Greg, and their son, Mike, work together to educate the community about the adventures of dogsledding. Their company outfits their canine athletes with top-quality gear.
The children also wrote letters to the mushers participating in the 2014 Iditarod race and most wrote back.
“We were having the children write for an authentic purpose. Some of the mail that they received back included trading cards and even booties that were worn by the actual dogs. The mushers enjoyed the letters from our students and even sent their own pictures,” Tirpak said.
The program was co-sponsored by the school's Parent-Teacher Organization with the Massachusetts and Marlborough cultural councils.
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