Ice rink at Carbondale school helps kids embrace the outdoors during COVID
Marty Madsen is in his 18th year as a P.E. teacher for students at Crystal River Elementary School in Carbondale. His goal as an educator is to help students experience a wide variety of sports and shape them into being good human beings along the way.
“So many of these kids are good at different things, and if you can have a child be really good at ice skating … that just makes them feel so much better about themselves. That’s what I want to do as a teacher, build self-confidence, build good human beings and good kids,” Madsen said.
Madsen began teaching third graders how to Nordic ski when he came across some old equipment in the basement of the former school building. As time went on, he also incorporated ice skating for the students with a shuttle bus to the town rink at the Carbondale Rodeo grounds.
Madsen said he never thought he would be able to provide his students with an ice rink on school grounds, and yet this year with the help of CRES parents Flor and Ernesto Cuc, he was able to pull it off.
“Flor said, ‘you know we should do something because it’s really nice for the kids to be able to do that at school’… I looked at Flor and said they probably wouldn’t have (the rink) if you guys didn’t come up with the idea,” Ernesto Cuc said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are limitations for how many children can be on a bus at a time, so skating at the rodeo grounds was not going to be a possibility this year. Flor is the mother of two students at CRES. She came up with the idea to have a rink on school grounds so students could just walk to it instead.
“(The idea) actually was because sometimes I volunteer at the school for my daughters … I remember (during gym class) it was so hard to put all the kids in the boots and carry all the stuff (to the rodeo grounds),” Flor said.
She saw that the school had ample space for a rink to be built and passed along to Madsen that the family business, Cuc Construction, would be happy to help with the building process.
“I really want to give the Cuc family a major shout out because I wouldn’t have done it or had any way of getting the man power over here (without them),” Madsen said.
Now students will be able to ice skate on school grounds in the years to come thanks to the generosity of the Cuc family and innovative attitude held by Madsen.
The yearly Rams Run fundraiser at CRES contributes to the P.E. class budget. Kids are not required to have their own equipment in order to try skiing or skating — the school is able to provide for them one class at a time for a wide range of shoe sizes.
“If you come over here it’s like a winter sports wonderland outside. You got kids skating, you got kids skiing; it’s pretty cool,” Madsen said.
Ernesto Cuc said his daughters had only ever ice skated at school, and when they were able to use the new rink on school grounds they were over the moon. Cuc emphasized how he wanted to thank Madsen and the rest of the staff at CRES for enabling them to go forward with the construction of the rink.
“It’s one of the things you don’t do everyday and when we do something like this we feel really good … you know that the kids are actually enjoying it, they’re using it. It’s nothing compared to what we do everyday.”
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Current events have some valley teachers feeling like the stakes of their profession have never been higher.