Stampede School coordinator Bev Copithorne joined the Calgary Stampede last year to lead our Stampede School program. As the school year comes to a close, Copithorne reflects on her thoughts of her first year:

I came on board with the Stampede right after Stampede time last year. With a background in both teaching and agriculture, Stampede School was truly a great fit for me. Being able to combine two things that I am passionate about really is amazing, I have the best job on Stampede Park! I am frequently seen with my posse of students, teachers and volunteers, traipsing through Stampede Park, as we uncover school curriculum in a hands-on experiential way.

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Bev Copithorne, Stampede School Coordinator, with Stampede School participant at the Calgary Hitmen education night

I frequently hear “Stampede School, what’s that?!” While many are familiar with the typical field trip model, that’s not what Stampede School is. The process is much more involved than your typical field trip and is interwoven into an entire school year. Stampede School is a partnership with Campus Calgary/Open Mind, a program that has “schools” at a variety of sites all over the city. This innovative program will see  233 classes engaging in community sites for five days of experiential learning including, Telus SPARK, City Hall, the Calgary Zoo and Glenbow Museum, just to name a few. Teachers invest a tremendous amount of time in the program, applying in April for the following school year as well as numerous in-services on Stampede Park and with other Campus Calgary/Open Minds programs.

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Students learn about milking machines and dairy cattle with Stampede volunteer Debbie Lee

I meet with every teacher six to eight weeks before their program begins to custom design each week of Stampede School. We discuss the work they’ve been doing and then start to explore how that work will evolve once they arrive at Stampede School. One question I am frequently asked is, “how do you possibly fill up five days when it’s not Stampede time?” The answer is simple, Stampede Park is extremely dynamic and as a result the opportunities are almost endless, truly the biggest limitation is the fact that classes only have five days on Stampede Park.

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A reflective moment with Stampede’s Heritage Tree

From the cultures of Treaty 7 and our early settlers to Union Cemetery and the importance of the river, the teachers love exploring the history and culture of Alberta and Calgary and the people who helped shape that history. They enjoy meeting our experts and journaling about these experiences while here at Stampede School and continuing learning once they return to their classrooms. The value in these experiences helps every student in a very individual way. One student this year was transformed from a reluctant writer into an avid writer. One teacher told me journaling provides students with the opportunity to connect with something that they want to write about.

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Learning about river rehabilitation at the Elbow with Stampede employee James Lenting

More than that, Stampede School is a way to bring our urban and rural roots together and is an excellent way to expose our newest and youngest community members to our year- round gathering place in the heart of Calgary.

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Grade 2 and 3 students square dancing with Stampede volunteer Stu Bradly

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Learning the skills of Showband

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A student reflects on his time working with Muffy Knox , equine specialist, and her horses

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Blackfoot Elder, Leo Pard shares his knowledge of traditional tools and artifact