Middle School Students Get a Taste of Iditarod 

You might have heard of the Iditarod dog sled race in Alaska. But in Guilford, Piscataquis Secondary School students are racing in the Ikidarod. Groups of seventh graders make up each dog sled team and they get to play different roles, including the dogs.”I was in charge of the sled. I was in charge of the dogs, telling them which way to go.” “I was a dog so I had to pull the sled.”The race is part of a unit on the Iditarod that Robin Rich teaches in her Language Arts classes.”For 7th grade literature, we follow the Iditarod race online, we read a variety of novels relating to dog sledding, the Iditarod, Alaska, the whole 9 yards. This is kind of our culminating activity,” said Rich. The trail is almost a mile long and has many obstacles along the way. The rough terrain is only part of the difficulty in the race. The teams also have to complete tasks at designated checkpoints like feeding their dogs and changing their dogs’ boots. They also have to watch out for eighth graders dressed as animals getting in the dog sleds’ way.”We splashed in a whole bunch of puddles which was horrible and basically the team had to stop. We had to scare away the animals…give them food or something,” said Dakota Phelps, student participant.Rich says she chooses a difficult route along the school’s campus for a reason.”We purposely find trails that have plenty of snow, open water, grass, pavement anything to simulate a tough trail,” said Rich. She says the students get an understanding of what these races are really like and they have a good time along the way.”It was fun I can tell you that but it was a messy ride,” Phelps said.She hopes she can continue teaching her Iditarod unit in the classroom with the Ikidarod race in the woods for years to come.