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MRE Fifth-Graders Take a Field Trip to Buttermilk Falls

Wednesday, November 6, 2019 -

When you think back to your time in “phys ed” class, youPhoto of MRE fifth-graders hiking at Buttermilk Falls. probably remember playing games like volleyball, basketball or soccer. While fun, those aren’t life-long activities for most people.

Last school year, Morgan Road Elementary established four core values - achievement, empathy, opportunity and safety – to support the school’s vision and shape its culture. Over the summer, MRE physical education teacher Mike Felice reflected on those values, and wondered what new opportunities he could add to his curriculum to inspire students to be physically active for the rest of their lives.

“We don’t have to just be active in the gym to be active,” Felice said.

That’s when he learned about New York State’s Connect Kids to Parks Field Trip Grant. The program connects school children with nature, outdoor recreation and history by refunding transportation costs and program fees up to $1000 for eligible classrooms. Felice applied for the grant, and was lucky enough to secure funds to take 70 students on their first-ever physical education field trip.

On October 21, students in Seth Francey, Pamela Riggs and Joelle Ross’ fifth-grade classes traveled to Buttermilk Falls State Park in Ithaca for a day of hiking and sightseeing. A park guide joined the students and chaperones, sharing the history of the park and the science behind the waterfalls.

Felice said approximately 80 percent of MRE’s fifth-graders had never been hiking and many had never seen waterfalls that big. Several students were so excited that they wanted to bring their parents back for another visit.

“It was really special to see how the kids reacted to the experience,” Felice said, noting that he plans to take MRE fourth- and sixth-graders on a similar trip in the spring.

Felice is working on several other physical education units focusing on life-long activities such as golf and cycling. He also hopes that he can take his classes to Liverpool High School to use the pool once renovations are done in the athletic wing.

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