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March 29, 2013

Windham seventh-graders work to restore dodgeball

WINDHAM — There are no more human targets in gym class, but two Windham Middle School seventh-graders have found a new target: the School Board.

Outrage lingered among many students yesterday at officials’ decision last week to ban dodgeball and other “human target” games throughout the district.

Twins Matthew and Michael Senibaldi, the sons of the only School Board member to vote against the ban, are taking the ball into their own hands. They have started an online petition, asking the School Board to restore dodgeball.

The School Board voted, 4-1, last week to ban dodgeball and nine other “human target” games from gym classes. The vote came after a middle school parent complained about their child being bullied during dodgeball.

The School Board banned the games after a committee of gym teachers found they did not meet National Association for Sport and Physical Education standards. The committee also spoke with Marcia McCaffrey, education consultant for the New Hampshire Department of Education.

”We encourage schools to align the curriculum to those standards,” she said.

All of the games banned, with names like Slaughter, Prison Ball and Bombardment, involve throwing a Nerf ball at other students below the shoulders.

“It’s just a fun game I’ve been playing since the second grade,” said Michael, 12. “I don’t get why we can’t play anymore.”

Matthew and Michael started the petition during lunch Wednesday and had collected more than 40 signatures in a matter of minutes. But the petition was taken away by a teacher and the boys were spoken to by principal Dan Moulis.

“I was told you can’t have a petition without proper permission,” Michael said.

The twins started the petition without the knowledge of their father, School Board member Dennis Senibaldi, who was on the short end of the 4-1 vote.

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