This month, gym students at E.S. Laird Middle School will be drawing their bows and aiming for bull’s-eyes as the school participates in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) for the second-straight year.
On Thursday, Jan. 29, the Lloydminster and District Fish and Game Association (LDFGA) awarded E.S. Laird a $1,000 grant to help in the school’s involvement with NASP, which is an international program which promotes outdoor skills, conservation and archery for young people. Other schools receiving this grant are Bishop Lloyd Middle School, Father Gorman Community School, Queen Elizabeth School and Neilburg Composite School.
“Last year, we were able to raise the funds and start a program,” said phys-ed teacher Morgan Mann, “We did archery for a month here in the school ... it was extremely popular.”
This is only E.S. Laird’s second year involved with NASP, and the LDFGA grant is helping the school grow and expand its archery program.
“The promoters of the program in Saskatchewan are the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, which we’re affiliated with,” said LDFGA treasurer Larry Chambers.“It’s mainly to introduce archery to students and to use archery as a tool for (improving) student performance in school.”
“They enjoy it so much they don’t want to miss a day they’re having archery,” said LDFGA scholarship chairman Bill Armstrong, who awarded the grant.
Mann says the money will go towards new equipment and maintenance, as well as supplementing travel for competitions and purchasing a trophy for a tournament he hopes to start with Bishop Lloyd.
Eventually, Mann would like to see students competing provincially and beyond.
Mann says Grade 9 student Mikayla Neufeld, who has competed in archery nationally, will be helping with the NASP program at E.S. Laird.
“She’s somebody we’re hoping to lean on here ... because she’s of a national-level caliber,” he said. “It’s inspiring and encourages (students) to maybe get involved with the sport outside of school.”
Neufeld, who Mann calls “Katniss,” after the bow-wielding heroine of the popular Hunger Games book and movie series, wowed the crowd at the school’s year-end talent show.
“We had three targets, and of course she hits bull’s-eye on all three targets and it’s very impressive, but then we had one more little trick,” he said. “We had hung an apple from the rafters on the stage ... so she would be about 30 metres from just in front of the bleachers to the back of the stage. We had her up on a table so she was fairly parallel with the shot, but she pierced that apple and it exploded. We still have staff and students and people who came in to watch say, ‘We haven’t seen anything like that before.’ ”
Mann says archery appeals to students who may not enjoy a “traditional” gym class.
“They have month now that they look forward to coming to phys-ed,” he said.