Libby High School students launch annual care packages with high hopes

Renee Rose, along with several of her physical science students at LHS, watch as one of the specially engineered vehicles drops in for its final test of efficacy in protecting the fragile cargo on-board. Photo by Stacy Bender, The Montanian.


By Stacy Bender

On Friday, October 30, approximately 100 freshman and sophomore students at Libby High School were spotted in the back-parking lot testing “care-package” prototypes developed by teams of engineers-in-training who had collaborated for a solid week in hopes their efforts would not ultimately become scrambled in a singular, split-second’s time.

Part of an annually proposed venture within Mrs. Rose’s physical science class at LHS, students have been teaming up each Fall to form mini-firms focused on engineering an egg-ceptional vehicle for safe transport.  Each team is granted an initial investment in their company to utilize in effectively designing a prototype while meeting budgetary and supply constraints.  All teams then actively collaborate to execute product-testing and follow-through with mindful assessment for future endeavors.

After first defining the “problem” at hand – how to transport a singular, raw egg from a 60-ft platform to a concrete landing in completely unbroken fashion, each team is then provided a list of just 8 supply items available and a budget of $200 from which to work.  Popsicle sticks ($.50 each/max of 20), rubber bands ($1 each/max of 10), sheets of paper ($1 each/max of 3), one meter of string ($1 each/max of 3), drinking straws ($.50 each/max of 15), .5 meters of masking tape ($5.each/max of 1.5), zip-lock bags ($10 each/max of 3), and eggs ($25 each/max of 4).

Careful monetary management is a must for those hoping to land a profit along with a strong overall grade for their work.  50% of their final class assessment is based on the success of each package delivery vs. monies spent to ensure its success.  To build a parachute, which materials would withstand inclement-weather deliveries, what supplies might be recycled for future endeavors?  How to test, evaluate, and leave room for further budgetary development challenges should they arise?  All these were among inquiries overheard and whisked thoroughly towards hypothesis at each student work-station this past week.

Preceding the big drop, each team was given an opportunity to test their landing mechanisms during a lower-elevation practice run.   At this stage, critical thinking shifted from budget constraints and management to project-efficacy.  With just 48 hours until Friday’s final drop, several plans were left vitally cracked at this trial stage and would find teams back in the “office” revisiting their project design and working to adapt efficiently within the time constraints now ticking.

On Friday morning, each team was given a 20-minute window to revisit their calculations for success, make any perceived adjustments deemed necessary, and meet the Flathead Electric workers who have helped for several years with final product-testing at the parking lot for the final drop.  Some had strengthened and/or expanded their parachutes, some had added materials in hopes of better absorption upon impact, and some had completely scrapped all initial work in exchange for a few minutes of spontaneous redesign to be launched on admittedly sheer hope.

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Halloween fun fills the streets

Beau Decker as Carl from the movie “Up”. Courtesy photo. Check out page 6 for more Halloween fun photos. Stay tuned to The Montanian Facebook page (@The.Montanian). Visit our website, (


Turner Mountain, and what’s to come in the future

By Brian Baxter


The Farmer’s Almanac, the best long range forecasts, and La Nina, are all indicating favorable conditions for a good snow year in our area. The President of Kootenai Winter Sports Ski Education Foundation, Inc., Bruce Zwang said “As far as opening day we will open as soon as we get the snow. Tentatively, we would like to open Dec. 18 but this could change.” Turner is unique in so many ways. The aforementioned group is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization, run almost exclusively by volunteers, who are a rugged bunch of kind hearted, intelligent folks who deeply love the mountain. A mountain that experiences tough weather, is at a base elevation of 3,842 ft., summit elevation of 5,952 ft., has a vertical drop of 2,110 ft., and gets over 200 inches average annual snowfall. As we were greeted by cold temperatures and seven inches of snow in Libby recently, we were awakened to many aspects of our lives in the extreme northwest corner of Montana. Fresh snow is indicative of new beginnings. Everything that touches new snow in any aspect, changes it in some way. The hills and mountainsides are also transformed by snowfall. Certainly, the relatively early autumn snow storm brilliantly highlighted the gold, peach, and auburn colors of larch trees, Rocky Mountain maple, and our beloved blue huckleberry shrubs. The wind magically performs transfigurations of the white stuff, forming drifts and sculpturing rock and trees. The imprints of all wildlife are more clearly witnessed. Montanian’s are used to change, just as we adapt well to seasonal variations, we can surely adapt to some life style changes to keep ourselves and our neighbors safe. But it’s in our hearts and souls to re-create our selves outdoors. Although we may shift to smaller groups or wider spacing between us humans, our spirits will propel us to enjoy winter outdoor adventures.  Turner Mountain Ski Area itself has been transformed. As Zwang told this reporter, “We have had a very busy off season. We completed a logging and excavation project to remove trees between the lift line and Chans Run, above mid mountain. This was done for two reasons, to remove trees that were getting too close to the lift, and to expand the width of Chans Run.” He added, “I think people are really going to like this option.” New additions also include construction of a lube storage room and wood shed for the shop, a shed roof was built onto the existing generator building for storage, and a walkway was constructed on the north side at the lift motor rooms. These projects were completed in addition to the normal lift building and groomer maintenance, along with the fall brushing project. The new 4,000 square foot lodge is beautiful.  So, the Turner Crew has been busy keeping things clear and running smoothly. The group is currently raising funds to add an additional groomer also. Donations can be mailed to Kootenai Winter Sports Ski Education Foundation Inc., POB 210, Libby, Mont. 59923. State and County Health Guidelines are followed as they want to do the best they can to provide a safe and healthy environment. See their modern website at for more contact information and info on Ski and Stay Packages, Rent the Mountain Program, Fifth Grade Ski or Snowboard Free Passport Program, equipment rentals, and trail maps. Turner Mountain Ski Area continues to operate as the quintessential small town ski area, based on the same spirit of camaraderie, volunteerism, and desire for great alpine skiing on which it was started in the late 1950’s.

Winter view from Turner
Mountain. Photo courtesy of Turner Mountain Ski Area.

Local awarded annual Whitefish Freestyle Team Scholarship

By Whitefish
Freestyle Team

13 year old,  Riley McNew from Libby Mont.
Photo courtesy of Tracy McNew

Olympian Maggie Voisin has announced that the 2020-21 Whitefish Freestyle Team Scholarship has been awarded to Riley McNew, a 13-year-old girl from Libby. McNew commutes two hours each way every Saturday to participate with the freestyle snowboard team, which she joined last winter. The scholarship award covers $1030 in fees for a team membership and season pass.

Voisin was born and raised in Whitefish, Montana, and is an alumnus of Whitefish Mountain Resort’s Freestyle Team. She is a current member of the US Freeski team, a two-time Olympian, and an X-Games Gold medalist. Maggie has been sponsored by Explore Whitefish since she was thirteen-years-old, which helped cover competition and travel expenses in her early years.

Voisin reviewed written essays that were submitted for the award, and selected the winner who best portrayed their passion for freestyle skiing or snowboarding, their dedication to improvement, how they will commit to hard work, as well as their appreciation for the sport and why it is fun.


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