About the project

Support us on our 1600 km journey through the Alaskan winter wilderness

IBAN: CZ05 0600 0000 0001 6251 1882

To make my journey not only meaningful to me, but also useful, I decided to support the school in Okna with the number of miles I will walk in the Iditarod Trail Invitational, a 1000 miles race through the Alaskan winter wilderness.The race will start on 2/25/2024 and the time limit for completion is 30 days. I sincerely hope to have as many as possible, and that with your help we can raise the funds for the necessary expansion of the school facilities. This school is worth it, see for yourself.

Jan Venca Francke

School Okna – a school that runs

No, no, this is not meant metaphorically; our school, of course, also faces a number of problems. We really do do walks. Every year, dozens of pupils, teachers and set off on a pilgrimage from the school’s doorstep to some place a hundred kilometres away. We repeat our history, geography or natural science directly in the field. During the day we walk, in the evening we often go on excursions and at night we sleep together in a gym or at school. And sometimes evening in a tent.

For the third time we managed to fill the bus during the holidays and together we crossed the Romanian Banat or the Slovak Ore Mountains. Twice we took part in the Ten Thousand Steps challenge and, despite being a small facility, we ended up on the doorstep of the top ten once and even in second place.

To increase our chances, we organized two walking marathons. Yes, our children are capable of walking over 40 kilometers. That’s probably why the athlete and adventurer Jan Venca Francke noticed us and offered to walk for us. “Hey, maybe for every kilometer I walk in Alaska, people could send one Czech Crown, what do you say?” was his initial suggestion. He is, after all, going for a second time to the Iditarod Trail Invitational, an extreme race through the Alaskan wilderness. Forests, mountains, tundra, solitude, wolves and temperatures plummeting to minus 50 degrees Celsius. Along the old Iditarod Trail, where dog sleds hauled crates of diphtheria serum to the town of Nome in 1925. And especially the distance: more than a thousand miles.

About our school

We are located in the village of Okna, which has just over three hundred inhabitants. From Okna School we can see Bezděz, about an hour of walk and we are at Mácha’s Lake or in the first gorges of the Kokořín teritory. Children come to us from more than thirty villages, because most of the schools in the Kokořín region have already been closed. We have two hundred of these children in the school alone, plus others in two kindergartens – traditional and forest. First we renovated the land and then, thanks to public collections and donations from parents, we rented and renovated an old pub. It now houses three second grade classrooms as well as a popular auditorium.

What will the money be used for?

However, we need to develop further because not all premises are suitable for us. The auditorium turns into a language classroom, workshop and kitchen during the week. Gym classes are held in the woods, in the new playground or in rented gyms of other schools. And so Mr Francke’s offer came in quite handy. We’re just not sure how much money can be raised this way.

Will it be enough for two new laptops or could it be used to demolish the old farm house and replace it with school workshops. Or will people get excited and allow us to build a few new classrooms out of shipping containers? Crazy idea – well, a crazy and extreme trip calls for a very crazy fundraiser for a very crazy school.

We are a school that has grown beyond the size of the community. We have been the largest employer in the village for a number of years and also host a number of events from the Autumn Festival, to the Christmas Fayre and the big show at the end of the school year. We are also one of the furthest villages from the Liberec regional headquarters, which is why many of the children are from neighbouring regions. Although we don’t ring bells and the children are allowed to call the staff first names, we are a state school with all that goes with it. Our children take part in art, math and science competitions, and every now and then they win some serious competition. We try to include children with various disadvantages in the classroom and in all of these events. A disabled classmate in a wheelchair managed all the pilgrimages and the crossing of the Banat with us with the help of assistants and parents. In short, we are not only a school that walks, but above all a school with doors wide open.


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