Wednesday November 7, 2012

TOWNSHEND -- Kevin Burke wears a few (winter) hats at Leland & Gray Middle and High School.

First off, he is the school’s IT assistant where he teaches computer science and technology to students, something he has done for a few years now after being hired. Before his more permanent position at the school, Burke gave snowboarding instructions privately and had judged competitions since 1992, before coaching snowboarding at Leland & Gray.

Coach Burke is preparing for the school’s new seasonal offerings, one of the premier high school winter sports programs in Southern Vermont.

"When I got to Townshend, I saw a need at the school to improve the snowboarding program," said Burke. "I asked the (school)board about the possibility of getting a separate bus for the kids to go to the mountain."

The board agreed with Burke, but had to see a rise in participation to justify the additional cost.

A year before Burke got there, the riding team had only four members. Burke got that number up to 27 students, including about a dozen hardcore members.

Leland & Gray has since had a special arrangement with Mount Snow, which the resort still honors. On Wednesdays, students involved in the program travel to an area mountain, usually Mount Snow.

On other days, if there’s enough snow on the ground, practice takes place at the school, which rests on a hill. If there is no white stuff, balance board and strength training is carried out.

Participating students will also make pilgrimages to local ski meccas like Bromley, Okemo, Jay’s Peak, and Killington. Meanwhile, Burke is trying to establish a boardercross event at Stratton, and he wants it be recognized and sanctioned by the state’s official high school sports governing body, the Vermont Principal’s Association.

The Leland & Gray Snowboard Team season starts at the beginning of November and runs until early March.

The team is open to all grades, but the competition team is limited to ninth through twelfth graders and is determined by a student’s ability and classroom grades.

The state championships are typically held during the first week of March over the course of two days. This year the championships are at Stowe Mountain resort.

Other sports offering for the 2012-2013 season includes downhill and cross-country skiing, jewelry-making, cooking, bowling, horseback riding, gym games, running, fitness training, and trap-shooting.

For more info or to suggest a new activity, contact Eleanor Kearney at ekearney@
lelandandgray.org or 365-7355, x 131.