Greetings, Teachers!

Spring is in the air and temperatures are rising. While basking in the sun and taking an afternoon nap the other day on the front porch, my buddy, Topaz, and I overheard sweet music coming from the house. Capturing our attention and echoing dreamily in our ears was a set of lyrics from the song. 

“Memories. Light the corners of my mind. Misty water-colored memories.”

It seems hard to believe that the 50th running of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is now history and a “memory” in our minds. What a fabulous and exciting race it was filled with adventures and heartwarming scenes! The broken sled incident of Michelle Phillips touched my heart immensely. Michelle’s sled broke on the way from Rohn into Nikolai. Upon arriving in Nikolai, she shared her story with fellow mushers. Ryan Redington, the grandson of the “Father of the Iditarod”, immediately offered Michelle his spare sled to use once she arrived in McGrath. His thoughtfulness exemplified the true Iditarod spirit!  

Even the Junior Iditarod proved to make new memories for those involved. The race moved up to Cantwell, youth encountered moose blocking the trail, a close finish with about six seconds between the winner and second place, and multiple sleds and teams mingling in the finish chute at the same time. Hats off to all the Juniors for an exciting race and congratulations to Emily Robinson, winner and “Rookie of the Year”. 

Many people over the years have captured, created and shared their fond memories of Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Races. There has been Jeff Schultz through his photography, current and former Iditarod Teacher on the Trail journal entries, “Eye on the Trail” blog by Terrie Hanke, 2006 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail, stories from volunteers and family members of mushers, and even trail notes from the mushers themselves. At our kennel a book lies on the coffee table entitled, Jon Van Zyle’s Iditarod Memories: 40th Anniversary Edition which includes forty years of Iditarod Trail posters painted by Jon Van Zyle and stories written by his wife, Jona. 

What is your favorite memory of the 50th Year of Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race? What about previous races or historical people associated with the race? How about any sled dogs that stand out in your mind as you think back over the years? Is there a favorite story you have heard from the Iditarod Trail over the years? What about a picture that has sparked a significant memory for you?

Your students will appreciate your responses to the aforementioned questions. But more importantly, if they have followed the race for a few years or have done historical research on the race, they might have their own memories to share. If this year was their first experience with the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, what was most memorable for them?

The song lyrics above mentioned, “Misty water-colored memories.” Time for your students to take out their paint brushes, water colors, colored pencils, or whatever form of art media they choose and create a visual picture of their favorite Iditarod memory. Students can then share the story of their memory through the written word thus enhancing the visual they created. Your students might write a quote, a poem (April is National Poetry Month), a story, or perhaps their own original song! 

Topaz and I can already envision your classroom with a collage of Iditarod memories so beautifully displayed. Maybe your students will even choose to extend this activity by creating a visual picture of their favorite memory from the school year!

As your school year draws to a close, remember the following quote by Lois Lowry, an American writer for children and young adults.

“I’ve always been fascinated by memory and dreams because they are both completely our own. No one else has the same memories. No one has the same dreams.”

Topaz and I are headed back to nap time in the sun…keep dreaming!!!!

~Sled Dog Ed