Leah Hayes’ kindergarten class with Jim Reed, 2022 USA Olympic bobsled team member. Maria Skillings / The Times Record

Williams-Cone Elementary School in Topsham will represent Sagadahoc County in the 2023 WinterKids Winter Games over the next four weeks.

Six years ago, the WinterKids launched the games to expand health education to schools throughout Maine, according to the nonprofit’s website.

Nine of the 16 schools in the games have competed before, but this is the first time for Williams-Cone.

Students and staff will participate in outdoor activities, academic challenges, charity drives and nutrition lessons. The 250 students in grades pre-K through second will earn points for each completed task and become eligible to win money for their school.

Principal Randa Rineer said the games are a great way to initiate positive emotional and mental health for students.

“One of our big goals is rebuilding our sense of community, because for so long we haven’t been able to come together because of COVID,” she said.


Rineer said the school learned in November it had been chosen to represent Sagadahoc County after submitting a short video and written proposal explaining why Williams-Cone wanted to participate.

Opening ceremonies happened Monday with a dance choreographed by physical education teacher Annie Martin. After tearing up the dance floor, students sang their school song and joined Maine School Administrative District 75 Superintendent Steve Connolly for a reading of “Eddy the Yeti,” a children’s book about a yeti living at the Sunday River ski resort.

Tuesday, students met 2022 USA Olympic bobsled team member Jim Reed, who gave an interactive presentation. Reed shared photos with the children and explained the basics of the sport. The school gymnasium filled with gasps when he told them his bobsled weighed as much as a full-grown tiger — 500 pounds.

A former college track star at the University of Maine, Reed said he had to gain 30 pounds to make the Olympic bobsled team and told students healthy eating was the key. He stressed “junk food” is not the way to go, but “lots of veggies and protein” are.

Reed kicked off the kids’ first week of physical activities with a warm-up routine of stretches and jumps.

Jim Reed leads grades pre-K through second in stretches. Maria Skillings / The Times Record

Next week, students will focus on nutrition and learn how to make fruit smoothies.


The third week of the games zeros in on family engagement, where the children work on social skills and collect food and clothing for donation drives. The final week of the games is the highly anticipated winter carnival.

“The kids are jazzed. The energy is contagious,” Rineer said.

The games began on Jan. 9 and will conclude on Feb. 3.

Students can track their progress at winterkids.org.

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