Friday, January 13, 2006

Olympic star revisits Ketchum roots

Street donates video equipment to Hemingway Elementary

Express Staff Writer

Hemingway Elementary School fifth-grade students Michael Nero, left, Angelo Papapoulos, Nicole Pratt and Spencer Thomas interview Olympic skiing star Picabo Street, center, in front of cameras that Street gave to the school. Photo by Willy Cook

Years before winning Olympic medals in downhill skiing, Picabo Street joined her Hemingway Elementary School peers for school ski days. The U.S. Olympian and Hemingway alumna, who was raised in Triumph, returned to the Ketchum school Tuesday, Jan. 10, to oversee the donation of video equipment that will allow students to document mountain adventures and educational endeavors.

"I would like to thank Picabo for remembering her roots here," Hemingway Elementary Principal Don Haisley said.

Street has an agreement with the Panasonic Corp. of North America to help support the company's global sponsorship of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. Before venturing to Italy, Street visited the school to donate video equipment as part of Panasonic's Kid Witness News Program. Panasonic informed the principal of the donation in December.

"I asked, 'Why us?'" Haisley said. "They said, 'You have a student who used to attend your school many years ago and she asked us to include you.'"

The hands-on video education program invites students to develop their creativity through video production. The equipment, which includes a digital video camera, color television monitors and digital editing deck, will be used by the technology classes headed by teacher Scott Slonim. With Slonim's supervision, students will research, write, produce, direct and edit videos.

"Take advantage of this program. Work together as a team," Street said.

Speaking to the entire elementary school, she encouraged students to pursue their passions.

"It doesn't matter where you come from, your dreams can come true," Street said.

Following the speech, members of the young audience swarmed the skier, asking for autographs on T-shirts, helmets, and even forearms.

"I want to know what her childhood was like and how she became such a famous skier," fifth-grader Michael Nero said. The young snowboarder was selected as a member of a four-person panel charged with interviewing Street.

Nero and his fifth-grade peers, Angelo Papapoulos, Nicole Pratt and Spencer Thomas, questioned Street about her life at and after Hemingway in a formal interview filmed by other students.

The interview project initiated the video education program, which will detail the school's ski program. Street agreed to provide the introduction to the film.

Street won a silver medal in the women's downhill skiing competition at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, followed by a gold medal in the Super-G event at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

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