Children First: Sheridan high school teaches teamwork - KOTA Territory News

Children First: Sheridan high school teaches teamwork

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School gym classes are usually a way to get kids active and let them burn some energy.

But a KOTA Territory high school is also using physical education to teach life lessons.

Fort Mackenzie High School P.E. teacher Darin Gilbertson is trying to change how his students think.

"I think it's easy for kids to quit these days in a lot of different things," Gilbertson said. "Kind of that video game mentality where they can just reset."

It's that mentality that Gilbertson is trying to reset using a high ropes course.

"The kids will come in a lot of times right out the gate and say, 'I can't do that,' before they even change clothes," he said, "and that's not okay."

"I didn't think I could do it," 14-year-old Jessica Paulson said of the cargo net, "and I got, like, halfway there. I wasn't even going to try it."

The course also aims to teach kids about working together.

"Kids get out of school or they have a job and they're going to have to work together," Gilbertson said. 

"It won't always be their close friends that they're working with, so they've got to learn to work together with other people."

"You're going to be working with people the rest of your life," said Michael O'Kelly, a 16-year-old at Fort Mackenzie. "You might as well learn it early."

And the lessons learned here work in a couple of ways: first by working in groups to belay for climbers, and second by encouraging classmates.

"They're definitely good moral and mental support when they're cheering for you," O'Kelly said. 

And they cheer no matter what.

"It's never measured by reaching the top," said Gilbertson. "It's just measured by as high as you can go, doing your best, and we celebrate all of that."

The "life lessons" course is integrated in the regular P.E. classes, and Gilbertson said it offers a challenge for every student's ability.  

If a student makes it through an element one day, he or she might try it blindfolded the next.

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