Idyllwild middle school students on the trail. Photo courtesy of Heather Mello
Idyllwild School Principal Matt Kraemer devised a literal “outside the box” solution to a problem posed by a number of his middle school teachers attending a workshop. Rather than pay five substitute teachers, costing the district an additional $600 in an already challenged school budget, Kraemer and 10 adult volunteers took the 82-member middle school, including special ed students, on a hike of the Ernie Maxwell Trail on Tuesday Sept. 20. “At least half of them had never been on the trail,” said Kraemer.

Along the way, students identified trees and plants as part of a nature treasure hunt. Kraemer said the students responded enthusiastically. Among the volunteers were Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit volunteer Lee Arnson, Nature Center Ranger Jyoti Kintz, Dr. Bill Blaschko, PTA volunteer Heather Mello, geologist Larrynn Carver, parent Mike Vladika, and retired teachers Jeri John, Jane Davis, Jim Taylor and Nobuko Christenson.

In another creative success, Kraemer noted the overwhelming community response to the residency of the Missoula Children’s Theatre (MCT). As part of the school’s commitment to promoting theater arts, for the second year MCT instructors spent a week working with 59 Idyllwild students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The result was an original children’s musical, “The Jungle Book,” by Michael McGill of MCT.

The PTA raises the money, about $3,100, to pay for MCT’s residency. Last year, ticket sales raised half that amount. This year, according to Kraemer, ticket sales, including a $500 donation from a student actor’s grandmother, amounted to $2,800, a very big success.

Idyllwild School children act in a play last week during the second year of the school’s Missoula Children’s Theatre residency, in which instructors spent a week working with 59 student. Photo by Marshall Smith