Smith, Kinuso, and three Slave Lake schools have archery programs. Smith, Kinuso, St. Francis of Assisi, and possibly Roland Michener were set to compete at the March 14 provincial tournament in Edmonton. This was cancelled due to COVID-19.
A week earlier on March 9, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School in Slave Lake held the Third Annual Falcon Open/North Central Zone Archery Tournament. Kinuso and E.G. Wahlstrom elementary school and others competed at the tournament.
With COVID-19, this is the last tournament of the season. All others such as the aforementioned provincials were cancelled.
Smith School in the Hamlet of Smith, has about 60 students. Around 30 of them take part in the archery program. Students from Grade 3 to 9 participate in the program. The school goes up to Grade 9.
Smith is forty-five minutes east of Slave Lake.
Principal Caitlynn Chernish has been at the school for seven years. For six of those years, the school has had archery. She and Miss Hensch run the program.
There are students who have been part of the program for the full six years, says Chernish. They’ve improved immensely. It is a bit of challenge for the Grade 3s, to learn the 11 steps and build up their arm strength.
“It’s a really rewarding sport,” she says. “And it’s a nice sport for a small school, as it’s individual. You don’t need a team.”
That being said, 20 students from the school had planned to compete at provincials in Edmonton at the Boat and Sportsman Show on March 13.
Smith School is in Aspen View School Division, so doesn’t compete against Slave Lake or Kinuso schools which are in High Prairie or the Living Waters Catholic school divisions.
Within Aspen View, there are usually a couple of tournaments a year. The school was intending to compete at a tournament in Smoky Lake, halfway between Lac La Biche and Edmonton, on the other edge of the school division. It is two hours and a quarter southeast from Smith.
Smith School had also hoped to compete in another tournament.
Chernish says, when she was growing up, her school didn’t have archery, but she wishes it had. She is an avid hunter, and would have enjoyed it. Hunting is popular in Smith. Many students when they are old enough use their archery skills to bow hunt. Hunting and competition bows are different, but the skills transfer.