Gear, clothing sale at Discovery will benefit Anaconda School Ski Program

What a cool deal. This Sunday, Nov. 24, Discovery Ski Area is hosting a big sale with a big name: The Winter Wonderland Extravaganza.

The sale will feature “gently used” winter clothing, ski and snowboard gear, ice skates and more. Best of all, thanks to a partnership between Disco and the parent-teacher-student association at Anaconda Elementary, all the money made from the sale will be used to help support the Anaconda School Ski Program.

It’s happening from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. If you ask nicely well in advance, the folks running the sale might let you put some items on consignment.

Here’s some more deets:

All funds generated that day will become the scholarships that cover area students’ enrollment in the program.  Participants will get four full days on the hill, including transportation to and from the ski area, rental equipment, a lift ticket, instruction, and a lunch.

During the sale, Discovery Ski Area’s rental shop and ticket office will be open for picking up season passes or squaring away season rentals. Don’t miss out on the 5-pack lift tickets that will also be available for a special price of only $175!

To make donations ahead of time, please drop them off at any of the Anaconda schools or at Community Hospital of Anaconda.

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Foster parent education sessions

As it’s National Adoption Awareness Month, all through November you can expect to see a lot of stories about the processes, challenges and outcomes involved with adoption.

TODAY, for one, is running a week-long series on adoption. Today’s segment, “Adoption challenges: It’s worth it – but it’s not easy,” includes some tips from adoption experts for prospective parents. The third tip made me laugh: “Keep your mind on your end goal. Therese thinks the pain of labor must be similar to the grueling adoption process: It’s horrible while you’re in it, but the memory of the pain fades away when your baby is in your arms.”

As someone who’s been lucky enough to experience both birth and adoption, I think that’s totally true. Although we finalized our adoption in August and I still have nightmares about missing paperwork.

If you’re interested in sharing my nightmares, another TODAY segment lists a few suggestions to help you get started. The first step, it says, is to decide which kind of adoption is right for you.

But how do you decide?

My family went with the Dan Fox Family Care Program at Youth Homes, and we highly recommend it. The awesome staff there offers a regular series of Foster Parent Education sessions, and it’s a great way to learn more about this particular kind of adoption without any commitment or cost.

Watch this short (eight and half minutes is all!) documentary featuring actual parents who have worked with the program, try not to cry, then call 541-1664 to sign up for the next session.

The next series will start in January. Here’s the full schedule.

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Saturday is deadline for A+ List nominees

For the past month or so, the Missoulian has sponsored the 2011 A+ List School Awards Contest to find Missoula’s “Most Influential Educator,” “Outstanding Student” and “Best Extracurricular or Classroom Project.”

Missoulians were invited to submit their nominees in each of three categories – elementary school, middle school and high school – to the website,

If you haven’t yet put in your submission, you might want to take note that the contest closes this Saturday. So hurry up and get those nominees named!

The winners will get prizes and be featured in a special section of the Missoulian that will run on May 3.

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So far, not much news – and some good news – on resources for teenage parents in Missoula schools

I’m still waiting for a reply from Missoula County Public Schools itself, but so far the responses to my inquiries into what sort of teen parenting resources – as in, programs aimed at helping teen parents stay in school, with support, and graduate – are available in Missoula have not been promising. It appears (and I’ll happily correct this if it turns out to be otherwise) that once a high schooler has a baby, the best they can hope for in the way of help from the school is a referral to outside community resources.

The good news is that there is an array of such resources in the Missoula area. I already mentioned Mountain Home – but there are also programs to get teen parents find and afford child care during school and work hours, food assistance programs and academic assistance programs as well.

The Futures Program at WORD, for instance, is a valuable one that, last year, helped “98 moms, 72 dads and 140 little ones,” according to program director Naomi Thornton, who also told me that “about 70% of parents who enroll in the program are already dropped out of school so we do a lot to try to reconnect them to educational goals. We do take referrals from any of the schools as well with the goal of trying to keep parents from dropping out. Child care and transportation are big problems for those trying to stay in school.”

Seventy percent. Wow. It goes without saying that every teenager who has a baby to care for must graduate in order to give their babies the best possible life – and themselves a good shot at a successful future.

Thornton sent me a description of the Future Program that I found pretty illuminating. Hope you find it worth a moment of your time, too.

– MM

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Montana’s kids have already voted, and the results may surprise you

Montana voters will have to wait until the polls close tomorrow and the votes are totaled before finding out the results of this year’s elections.

But Montana’s students have already voted – in this year’s mock elections – and the results are available online.

Not only can you view the student vote tallies for Montana U.S. representative and state Supreme Court justices, you can also see how the four ballot initiatives fared – as well as how Montana kids feel about several important national issues: the economy, energy, health care and immigration.

But the poll result that most surprised me was one that Montana’s adult voters won’t find on their ballots.  Students were asked when they should be allowed to use their cell phones during school hours, and given the choices of: never, in case of emergency, outside of class time, and anytime. A strong majority – 2,507 voters – picked “outside of class time.”


Oh yeah, and no clear winner emerged from the best ice-cream flavor question. Chocolate had the edge on vanilla, with strawberry trailing far behind – but “other” won the most votes. I’m guessing that’s because huckleberry wasn’t listed as a flavor.

– MM

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