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Skateboarding student is home

Last modified: 5/25/2010 12:00:00 AM
Logan Winkler, whose sixth-grade classroom stretched across the country, is home for summer break.

Logan and his father, Matt, traveled more than 20,000 miles after leaving their home in Wilmot Flat last September in search of an education and adventure. And they found it, in the nation's mountains, cities, museums and libraries.

"With something like the Battle of Gettysburg, I can actually go to the battlefield and see the spot where this general died or that general died," Logan said yesterday.

Winkler and his wife, Jessica, a registered nurse, worried about their son's difficulty learning at Kearsarge Regional Middle School because of a weakness in his eyes that kept him behind in his studies. They wanted an alternative form of education, one that would tap into Logan's potential.

So, with the blessing of both the school administration and Jessica, Logan and Winkler, who quit his job in the academic support department at Granite State College, hopped in their Honda Fit and visited all 50 states. The goal was to experience history, science and culture firsthand while also blending in Logan's favorite hobby, skateboarding.

Logan skateboarded in each state during breaks from studying. A website kept readers updated on the journey, sought funding through the sales of items such as T-shirts and posted photos of the pair as they moved from state to state.

The highlight for Logan? Through his website and the buzz it created within the skateboarding community, Logan met professional skateboarder Mike Vallely, also known as Mike V, who's instantly recognizable to any fan of the sport.

Mike V surprised Logan as Logan skateboarded in the backyard of Paul Schmitt, one of the pioneers in skateboard design. Mike V skated to the house with pizzas for lunch.

"As he got closer, I noticed the lightning bolt tattoo on his forearm." Logan said. "That's his symbol. I go wide-eyed. 'Wait a minute, that's Mike V. That's one of my favorite skateboarders.' I'm sitting right next to him and I don't know what to say to him. Do I ask him if he can do a certain trick? Of course he can; he's a professional. So it was awkward and fun at the same time."

Logan was also featured in a documentary on Fuel TV, a unit of Fox Cable Network that focuses on extreme sports and is available to 26 million American households.

More recently, Logan and his dad visited Washington, D.C., the final stop on their trip. They met with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, toured the Capitol and went to the Smithsonian Institute.

They returned home May 18, greeted by Jessica, Logan's sister, Alexandra, and the family's two dogs and three cats. Winkler estimates he spent $10,000 in 37 weeks. His website didn't generate as many sponsorship dollars as he had hoped, but he wasn't complaining. Not after finding free lodging virtually every night through couchsurfing.org.

"You've got a place to sleep, food, and you got your sixth-grade education," Winkler said. "I don't know any boarding school that could offer that program. I wish we could have recouped some of our expenses through our website, but we failed on that point. But we did not fail on the educational part, which was a higher priority."

While Winkler is satisfied that he gave his son a great educational experience, he admits that the mainstream method also has its benefits.

"There's a lot that the school building offers," Winkler said. "It's got a science lab, a music department with people who are trained musicians. I don't know anything about music, and you've got 80 other 12-years-olds he can play with, interact with. That piece was missing from our model, and it started to show at the end of the year."

Which means Logan will be back in a school building next September, either here or in New York, where the family might be moving this summer. And that's fine with Logan.

"I think it was a pretty fun experience," Logan said. "But, honestly, just being away from my pets all that time was kind of hard."


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