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Fox Lane Middle Schoolers Collaborate on Ropes Course Challenges

Students grab a peer who is swinging on a rope to the platform they're standing on

“Come on, guys! I don’t want to get eaten by sharks!”

This is not a quote from a reality TV show, but something a Fox Lane Middle School student recently yelled out to teammates while working through an element of the ropes course during 6 West’s Team Day.

“The Ropes Course is a chance for students to get to know peers on their team better, especially during the first few weeks in a new school,” said 6 West science teacher Theresa Benitez. “They will be on the same team all three years in middle school. Team Days allow them to enhance communication, cooperate, build trust and be more accepting of others — and they bring students together in a non-academic way. Some students might feel shy or less confident in the classroom. Team Days give them the ability to shine and exhibit leadership qualities that they might not otherwise show in the classroom setting.”

Before students got started, physical education teacher Jeff Alviti gave them an overview of the course, which touched on their bigger purpose for the day.

“When you are at an element, you are working to achieve a common goal,” Alviti said. “None of these elements are something you can do by yourself. You have to work together. That means talking to each other. That also means listening. If you try an idea and it doesn’t work, you try another one. But you need to work together.”

Students took this advice to heart as they swung on a rope, traversed a rope bridge, walked across a wire and more. Each activity required skills like teamwork, communication, critical thinking and perseverance.

As students worked to figure out each of the challenges, 6 West teachers and aides stood by offering gentle reminders and words of encouragement.

“Think about a strategy. Think about balance,” one teacher said.

 “When they are jumping over on the rope,” another teacher said to a separate group, “what could you be doing to help them?”

“What did you learn from the last two times you got sent back to the start?” a third asked.

Once students warmed up and started thinking together strategically, the ideas came quickly.

“Can we use a stick to grab the rope?”

“Why don’t you get a running start and we’ll hold the rope for you?”

“There’s not enough weight on the plank!”

While the teams did not succeed at all of the elements in the time allotted, that was beside the point. More importantly, they bonded, learning to communicate as they thought through difficult problems and leaned on one another for help.

“These types of activities — along with being on a team in middle school — enables students to learn from each other, innovate faster, create a sense of healthy competition, and promotes strong working relationships — all life skills that they will utilize in their school years and beyond.”

6 West students cheer on classmates crossing a rope bridge