Moose Jaw student wins big at provincials

Digital presentation on Frank Slide wows judges

When a sizeable piece of a mountain slid down onto an Alberta town in 1903, it made history.

More than 100 years later, Connor Yeroschak is making a different kind of history as the only Grade 5 student to place in the top 10 at Saskatchewan’s Provincial Heritage Fair.

“Last year I went to provincials and fell short,” Yeroschak told the Times-Herald on Wednesday. “This year, winning this prize felt really good, and it was good to be there with all my friends and knowing my hard work paid off in the long run.”

Yeroschak tied for 10th place in the digital category for the presentation that accompanied his project. He stood before the judges, not with a poster board (though he had that too), but with an iPad.

“I thought it would be unique. I didn’t see many kids using it,” he said of the Prezi software he employed to create the presentation. “I thought I could do something cool and different.”

Yeroschak did his award-winning project on the Frank Slide, a disaster that befell a small Alberta town in 1903 when part of the mountain it was nestled under slid down and destroyed it. Yeroschak said 90 people were killed, but he was most surprised to learn that a horse – named Charlie – survived a month underground before being rescued by sucking salt from his harness and drinking whatever water trickled down through the rubble.

His teacher, Gillian Crocker, said there was some fierce competition for the topic, but in the end the other students vying for it bowed out in face of Yeroschak’s enthusiasm.

“Connor was so excited and so passionate about this topic,” she said. “He worked on it every day and every night and it really showed.”

Sunningdale Elementary School typically has students in Grades 4 and 5 participate in the Heritage Fair and then switch over to science fairs in Grade 6. Yeroschak was disappointed that he will not be continuing on to nationals this year for lack of funding, though he qualified to do so.

“It’s a great way to learn about Canadian heritage,” he said. “You learn in a different way than you do just sitting at a desk.”