Students “Climb” Mt. Everest

Students “Climb” Mt. Everest
Posted on 02/16/2019
AV GogglesWith the addition of new technology and a visit from a world-traveling WASD alumnus, which began as a traditional sixth-grade language arts unit at West Reading Elementary Center quickly turned into a memorable experience for the students and their teachers.

The unit began with students reading either Peak by Roland Smith or Te Climb by Gordon Coleman. Both books, which feature teens who climb Mt. Everest as the main character, provide the young readers with themes of relationship dynamics and physical challenges. As they progressed with the reading assignment, the students also watched the movie based on the book Into Thin Air as a class.

“I would stop the movie at different points so that we could discuss similarities and differences between the movie and the books that the students were reading,” Mrs. Bridgette Kozuch, a sixth-grade teacher explains.

During this time, Mrs. Shana Matz introduced the students to the school’s new virtual reality/augmented reality goggles that were purchased by and donated to the school by the Wyomissing Area Education Foundation. Money to make this donation possible was raised during the special “fund-a-need” portion of the auction at last year’s Blue & White Party held in May at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Bill and Vicki Combs. One set of 15 AR/VR goggles is available in each school for teachers to use. Using the goggles, Mrs. Matz took the students on a 30-minute virtual field trip to Mt. Everest. They explored Kathmandu, Base Camp, Camp 1, and the icefall. However, the students’ exposure to Mt. Everest didn’t end there. While visiting for the Thanksgiving holiday, Mr. Dan Helinek, Wyomissing Area Class of 2011, agreed to share with the class highlights of his experience climbing to Mt. Everest Base Camp in 2016. Mr. Helinek, who is currently attending law school at George Washington University moved to New Zealand after graduation. He told the students that while he had hiked more than 500 miles in 11 months all over the world, the Tree Pass Trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp was “by far the coolest” he had ever hiked, and the journey took him and his fellow hikers 19 days to complete.

Mr. Helinek shared photos of his time in Kathmandu as well as on the Tree Pass Trek. He also passed around his passport, which included his Nepal visa and passport stamps and visas from other places he has traveled to around the world.

“I am grateful to Mr. Helinek for taking the time to visit with our students,” Mrs. Kozuch says. “Anytime a WYO graduate can visit and show the students that they can go beyond our zip code is amazing.”