I have the best clasroom in the world!

January 30, 2013

OVERHEARD IN OUTDOOR EMERGENCY CARE CLASS- Teacher: “What is the number one sign of injury to the chest?”  Student:”A lot of pain?”

Today was the most beautiful day in the history of the world.  Meaning, today was the most beautiful day in the last three weeks.  That’s about as far back as I can think during this super-compressed time that is the winter term at Gould Academy.  The sun was out, the temperature was high (it might have even gotten up to 30 degrees! Are you hearing me, Juniors?), and I was doing what I do here at Gould in the winter: Suffering bouts of narcolepsy.

No!  I was wide awake! The narcolepsy comes later, when all of the coffee and sugar wear off.  I was teaching the future ski patrollers of America (meaning Gould-America) to do some of the most important things that we do for people who ski and ride. I was imparting wise words from the great ski movie “Better Off Dead”: “go that way.  Really fast.  And when something gets in your way…turn.”

While I’m on the topic, “Better Off Dead” is probably John Cusack’s best movie (only slightly better than “Hi Fidelity“, because

A: He skis throughout the movie, and

2: It features the line “I’ve been going to this high school for seven and a half years!  I’m no dummy!”

So back to ski patrol, which I’ve just determined through exhaustive research (looked at my schedule on the Infoserver) is the biggest part of my job from November through…what month is it?… And today I spent the morning, out in the sun, teaching two young patrol candidates how to guide patrol toboggans down the mountain.  Safely.

I know what some of you are thinking:  “Doug! Are you crazy?  Letting young people control something as dangerous as a ski patrol toboggan?  Is that sane?”

Hey, you parents out there in Glog-istan gave them cellphones with cameras.  I think what I’m doing is MUCH safer.

In fact, I’m a firm believer in the capacity of teenagers to do great, meaningful, challenging things.  That doesn’t mean that they always button their shirts correctly (I watched it happen today), but it does mean that if we set high expectations, teenagers can and will rise to the occasion.  Ski Patrol is the perfect example.  I would trust these kids with my life.  Literally.

Here are some pictures of “my classroom” from today.  Jealous yet?

Jedi Patrol master at work….


Is it cool to be a snowboarder if you’re over 40? I hope so…

Kasmira, saving the world (one candidate at a time).


7 Responses

  1. Avatar Ben Kline says:

    Keep up the great work Doug!

  2. Avatar Karen Langley Current '63 says:

    Just for fun, my daughter Dannielle Hansler Sargent ’87 posted this on FB.
    As a former GA ski team captain……it love it. It’s great to see the snow, I guess a Sunday River…..ya Sunday River where there was one Mountain and one lift when I was ski team!!!!! Thanks Doug

  3. Avatar Vicki MacDonald says:

    Oh how I miss this! Those were some of the best days I had at GA….working in the cold, snow, and wind (and the occasional sun). KEEP IT UP JEFE!

    • Avatar alfordd says:

      Thanks Vicki. Riding the chondola with your family, watching you take a sled down is one of the special patrol moments. I’ll always cherish it!

  4. Avatar alfordd says:


  5. Greg Gilman Greg Gilman says:

    Ok, so “Better Off Dead” does have a clay-mation hamburger that plays Van Halen, but the fantasy of owning, and hanging out in a record shop all day still wins for me.

    “Gee, I’m real sorry your mom blew up, Ricky.”

  6. Avatar ally says:

    I saw this post on Sunday River’s facebook page. I was a 15 year old freshman in high school when I took the OEC course. I attended the Annual Student Ski Patrol Competion for 3 years. At my home mountain I was treated as an equal from the day I graduated. The expectations were the same for me as anyone else. I am a better person because of the life skills I learned being on ski patrol. Competing kept me up to date with practices which in turn made me an asset on the hill. Encourage your students to look into the competition. It’s a blast if it is still happening!

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