Elementary school takes the classroom to the lake

Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune on

Published in Outdoors

CHERRY, Minn. -- Ten-year-old Joey Smith, a fifth-grader at Cherry School, clutched the northern pike in two gloved hands. The wide-eyed fish, still wiggling, glistened in the sunshine and zero-degree air.

Joey had just emerged from a heated fishing shelter on Long Lake near Cherry. He and nearly 90 other fourth- and fifth-graders from the school were taking part in an annual fishing and outdoors day on the lake.

Nobody had to teach Joey how to tell a fishing story.

"The line was going straight down," he said. "I reeled it in. It felt very heavy."

The fish was a solid two pounds.

"My mom will be glad," Joey said. "We'll probably cook it for a meal."

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This was Joey's first time ice-fishing, and that is just what this day on the ice was all about, said Brian Kemp, a fourth-grade teacher who helped conceive the event.

"We grew up here, and we realized a lot of our kids didn't have that opportunity," Kemp said. "We thought it would be a great way to get kids outdoors."

This is the fourth year that Kemp and fellow teachers -- Ashley Lesemann, Lisa Repensky and Pat Rossini -- have taken their students to Long Lake for a day of ice-angling, tip-up fishing, snowshoeing and winter survival class time. Another 15 or so parents or grandparents had come along to assist.

Joey gave much of the credit for his angling success to volunteer Jon Sikkila, who coached him after the pike took his minnow and bare-hook offering.


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