EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

October 16, 2012

New gym wall crosses curriculum

Students hang out and learn at Hampstead Central

HAMPSTEAD — After years of planning, Hampstead Central School finished upgrades to its gymnasium and cafeteria space last week with the installation of a new climbing wall.

The 40-foot wall, supported mostly by community donations, is now being integrated into the school’s core subjects. Through it, gym classes are now helping reinforce content from other class subjects.

“Math has to be supported everywhere, not just in your math class,” principal Dillard Collins said.

As students from a first-grade class climb across the wall, Collins describes a game physical education teachers are playing with students. It involves reaching out to balls on blue hand-grips, tossing them into buckets near the wall and practicing multiplication tables to see how many points they earned or lost after hitting or missing the shots.

Angie Ingraham, a physical education teacher at the school, uses the lesson with her students.

“They can’t stop their learning in the classroom,” she said. “For something that looks fun for them, it’s educational. We have so many hidden math things.”

Sandy Kwiecien, the school’s other physical education teacher, said she could see other subjects being used in gym exercises as well.

“I would like to see social studies, going from continent to continent,” Kwiecien said. “We can work directly with a classroom teacher and have an intersection to curriculum that is currently being taught.”

The wall cost around $9,730, after a $2,010 school discount. While the district chipped in $1,231 for the wall, community groups covered the rest of the bill: Community Resources Association donated $1,000, the Parent Teacher Student Association gave $2,500 and the Hampstead Mother’s Club helped by giving $4,999.

Rebecca Gagne, a member of the Mother’s Club, said the wall is redefining gym class by “switching it up for kids.”

“There’s a lot of buzz about this wall from all the ages,” Gagne said.

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