Local Elementary School Wins Table Decoration Contest for Iditar - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Local Elementary School Wins Table Decoration Contest for Iditarod

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Cheat Lake -

The Iditarod is known as "The Last Great Race" and is more than 1,000 miles long. The race has 68 mushers racing this year. They travel from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska in Dog Sleds. It can take anywhere from 10 to 17 days to make the trip.

Fifth grade students at Cheat Lake Elementary School are preparing to send their table decorations to the Musher's Banquet for the Iditarod.

The Iditarod race in Alaska has been on the fifth graders' minds since they started reading books about it in school. Language arts teacher Shari Shunk thought it would be nice to take their learning to the next level.

"We thought we'd come up with a prototype, take a picture, of it send it in and see what they thought. And about three or four weeks ago, they contacted us and asked if we would send 100 of them," said Shunk. "So we've been spending some time putting together the red lanterns and the husky dogs, and it's been fun."

The school is also hosting one of the 12 traveling quilts that travel around the United States to help other places learn about the race and the character traits involved. They hosted the quilt they will design a square for a future quilt.

Around 70 fifth graders worked through seven of their language arts classes to put these table decorations together.

"I was excited to make the table decorations because I don't think there's that many people that know that much about Morgantown, West Virginia and Cheat Lake Elementary so we get to show them about us," said Lucy Roh, a fifth grade student in Mrs. Shunk's class.

"My favorite part about making the table decorations was probably when we all got to work together, painting the table decorations," said student Bella Belko.

The class decided to make the decorations a husky cut out with the racers names and hometowns on them and a red lantern. They chose the red lantern because of the significance it has to the race.

"When the Iditarod race begins a red lantern is lit at the finish line and it stays lit until the last musher crosses the finish line and then it's blown out," said Shunk. "The last musher as a sign of diligence, perseverance, sticking to it, gets a red lantern award. We thought that had great significance."

With all the excitement the students still got to pick which musher they're rooting for to win the race. Newton Marshall one of the few out of country racers. He's from Jamaica, and the students thought it was interesting how he practices without any snow.

The centerpieces will be placed on the tables of the musher banquet on February 28. This is where mushers pick what order they will be racing in.

"I hope that they think they're awesome and really cool. Because we put a lot of work into it," said Belko.

Cheat Lake Elementary hopes to continue lessons on the Iditarod by implementing an "Iditawalk," where students will walk through a course like they are competing in the race.

The school also hopes for students to be able to follow a racer on March 3 when the race begins through GPS systems on the Iditarod website.