By Kathryn Franke
Special to the Review
MERCERSBURG, Pa. – Whether they are first-timers or dream of competing in the downhill at the Winter Olympics, members of the Ski Club at St. John’s Catholic Prep in Buckeystown hit the slopes every week in winter.
From January to early March, students ski and snowboard every Friday evening in Pennsylvania, alternating between Liberty Mountain Resort in Fairfield and Whitetail Resort in Mercersburg, which they visited Jan. 30.
The Ski Club schedules 10 convenient trips, at a discounted rate.
Eight years after its formation, the club has grown to 45 members.
“Ski Club has had a very positive impact on our students,” said Eric Dummann, dean of students. “With their passes, club members are able to go to the resorts on their own, but weekly trips are coordinated through the school.”
Seung Ji Kang, an international student from South Korea, joined Ski Club as a novice. Having no prior skiing or snowboarding experience, Kang was able to use a free pass provided by the resorts to join her classmates on a trip and see how she liked it.
She loved the experience so much, she has been with the club ever since.
“Since I am an international student, Ski Club has been amazing because it has helped me make so many great friends,” she explained. “I’m so glad I joined. I look forward to it every week.”
The camaraderie that Kang noted is part of what makes Ski Club rewarding. No matter one’s skill level, students help each other learn and improve with each passing week, forming lasting friendships along the way.
Phillip Soyring, the club’s moderator and a physics teacher at St. John’s, has been in charge of the club for the past five years. For Soyring, being part of Ski Club has provided him with an even deeper appreciation for his profession.
“As a teacher, I get to see the students in a different environment during Ski Club,” he explained. “They are relaxed and doing what they really enjoy, and they can interact and bond with other students who share common interests.”
Building these friendships is why many students, such as senior Francis Barbera, join Ski Club as freshmen and stay through senior year.
“Ski Club has probably been one of the best moments of high school for me,” Barbera said. “I’ve been hanging out with my friends. I’ve had the opportunity to get to know a lot of people from my school who I otherwise wouldn’t know.”
Friday is the highlight of the week for members of the St. John’s Ski Club, not because school is out, but rather because they get to spend another evening skiing with some of their closest friends.