Set goals, and maybe you’ll reach your summit

It’s unlikely that Clearwater Middle School teachers Christian Gilbert and Brian Honkomp teach about archaeological digs, display ancient relics during show and tell, or fight bad guys on the weekend.
All the same, it’s hard not to equate the two as modern day Indiana Joneses thanks to the adventures they’ve shared with their students and online followers through their Go4theSummit education expeditions.
For each of the past five years, Gilbert along with Honkomp and/or others have climbed some of the most majestic mountains in the world — Aconcagua, Argentina in 2008; Kilimanjaro, Tanzania in 2009; Elbrus, Russia in 2010; Kosciuszko, Australia in 2011; and Pico de Orizaba, Mexico in 2012 — and brought the adventures into the classroom by teaching via satellite, through the web, or in the classroom (Honkomp didn’t climb Kilimanjaro or Kosciuszko but taught about the expeditions in his classrooms).
In 2013, Gilbert and Honkomp are planning their biggest adventure yet.
The teachers — along with Waconia High School alumni Josh Pauly, Matt Wessale and Patrick Deering and Orono alumnus Louis Patten — will scale Mt. Denali, also known as Mt. McKinley, in Alaska from June 15 to July 7. At 20,320 feet high, Denali is the tallest mountain in North America. Its nickname is “The Great One.”
“(Denali) is by far our biggest challenge to date, but also the next obvious mountain to test our skills we have gained the past eight years of mountain exploration,” Gilbert said. “We have all been busy since early October physically and mentally preparing for the expedition. Like past Go4theSummit Education Expeditions, we will be sharing this experience via satellite from the field with our student and online followers.”
Gilbert thanked two community groups for recent donations to Go4theSummit. The Waconia-West Carver Rotary Club contributed $750 for a new Go4theSummit laptop computer that will be used during the expedition in the mountains. The Waconia Fire Department gave $750 to offset the cost of glacier safety gear.
A wealth of information about the Denali expedition is available at
For most students and Go4theSummit followers, watching the group ascend Denali is inspirational enough but Gilbert, Honkomp and other Clearwater teachers are using the expedition as a springboard to educate their students — and others — about the importance of setting goals and ways to achieve those goals.
The effort, called GOAL4theSummit, is a community initiative designed to motivate students, teachers, parents and community members to improve their lives by setting a five month life goal.
“It’s a challenge to sit down, think, and make a commitment to change something to make their life better,” said Gilbert, explaining that it’s a five month campaign because it coincides with the five months of preparation being taken by the members of the Go4theSummit Denali team.
At Clearwater, students will be asked to choose a specific goal they would like to achieve by the end of the school year and teachers will support the effort through a cross-curricular approach.
“School isn’t just a variety of classes, it’s all connected,” said Erika Monson, a language arts teacher at Clearwater who is looking forward to supporting the initiative in her classroom.
“We’ll be meeting a couple of times a week to work on goals,” Gilbert said. “It’s a process to get the kids to think about and do more real time planning for their future. Goals are part of the building blocks of being a successful person. The initiative is helping set kids up for success in high school.”
A goal might be as straight-forward as cutting down on television watching, exercising more, or pledging to use one’s time more constructively. Gilbert said students were told to think of it as “creating their end of the year legacy” and he noted that the students are excited to know that adults in the community will be making goals right along with them in the coming months.
“It’s project based learning in the classroom that will have some real relevance for the rest of their lives,” said Richard Scott, the district’s  Director of Grants and Development, who is excited about the initiative’s reach into the community. “This is an opportunity for the community to connect with the school district. The students help the community by giving it this opportunity and community members can help students by showing a good example through participating in the goal initiative.”
Community members are encouraged to learn more by visiting
“This site is dedicated to help support our GOAL4theSummit community in every aspect of the goal making and fulfillment process,” Gilbert said. The site includes downloadable forms (goals certificate and worksheets) that can be printed out and used for the initiative. “Go ahead; take the challenge. Be a part of the catalyst for positive change in our community. Together, we can all GOAL4theSummit!”
If participants choose, they can share their goals and successes with others through the website — visit to learn more.

Contact Todd Moen at [email protected]