ISHPEMING - Aspen Ridge Middle School students enjoyed their "rewards outing" laughing and screaming as they slid down the tube slide at Al Quaal Recreation Area on Thursday.
Temperatures were above zero and snow was falling as more than 100 students clung to their tubes and each other's jackets as they rocketed the top of the hill to the bottom, where frozen Teal Lake lay in front of them.
The trip to the tube slide in Ishpeming was Aspen Ridge's second quarter rewards outing for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders who passed all their classes and made it through the quarter without a detention or suspension.
Students from Aspen Ridge Middle School catch a ride to the top of the tube slide at the Al Quaal Recreation Area on Thursday. (Journal photo by Zach Jay)
Split up into two groups, the sixth and half of the seventh grade students spent the morning on the slide, while the remainder of the seventh grade and the eighth grade students got to get out in the snow in the afternoon.
This particular day was different from most of the school's quarterly outings.
"We usually do it at the school," said Jay LeRoy, a seventh grade science and computer teacher at Aspen Ridge. "But this year (physical education teacher) Ryan Reichel got a grant."
Reichel received a $400 grant from Cliffs Natural Resources that - coupled with funds from the school's parent teacher organization to bus the students to the hill and back - enabled Aspen Ridge to rent out the tube slide for the day.
"I was just trying to think of a creative way to have these kids have some fun and utilize some of our outdoor space, especially after this cold spell," Reichel said. "It's been going good. I think the kids are just happy to be outside. It's been so cold lately and we've been out here for two and a half hours and they're still going strong out there."
"It's a perfect day for it," he said. "The kids are having fun."
Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.