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School Board Axes Dodgeball Games from Curriculum

The vote came down 4-1 to suspend a wave of games on Tuesday.

Silver screen dodgeball professionals Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn aren't going to be happy about this one.

Windham School Board members came down hard on the game Tuesday, voting 4-1 to accept a recommendation to remove dodgeball and other human target games from the physical education curriculum.

A study conducted by Golden Brook School Vice Principal Rory O'Connor was coordinated alongside GBS physical education teacher Lauri Putnam, Windham Center School physical education teacher Marge Leahy, Windham Middle School physical education teacher Erin Shirley and Windham High School human performance teacher Brian Fillion.

The group recommended that a total of 10 human target games be banned from the district.

The decision was made based on the position taken by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), which does not support human target games in a K-12 curriculum.

"The professionals, the physical education teachers are able to effectively remove these games from their curriculum and really not miss a beat," said O'Connor. He clarified that many of the games are only taught between one and two times a year.

Superintendent Dr. Henry LaBranche said the study stemmed from one parent's complaint about the safety and bullying caused by human target games.

Through conversations with his leadership group he said it was determined that similar concerns had been expressed by other parents.

New school board member Dennis Senibaldi disagreed with the recommendation, arguing that sports like football lead to far more injuries than dodgeball.

"This is dodgeball, it is American pie," said Senibaldi. "To suggest concussions and stuff (from dodgeball) you'd have to ask yourself, compared to football – how many concussions? How many knee injuries?"

O'Connor argued that athletes playing football have helmets and pads, while LaBranche added that football players get permission from their parents before they participate.

School board member Michelle Farrell said that the games are "not right" from a bullying aspect.

LaBranche added that students have been "singled out by their contemporaries" for not wanting to participate in the games, and that the singling out has not ended in that particular class.

Farrell also acknowledging that the names of some of the games would have people "mortified."

Some of those game names include "Prison Ball" and even "Slaughter."

While not reading the "slaughter" name aloud, vice chairman Stephanie Wimmer said she was concerned about the message being sent.

"When I saw the names of some of these games, unfortunately guys, we live in a world where 20 babies were slaughtered," said Wimmer.

"We need to take the violence out of our schools and not teach it," she later added.

In a follow-up interview, Senibaldi criticized Wimmer's connecting her argument to the Newtown, Conn. tragedy.

"It was offensive to even put a tragedy like Sandy Hook in the same realm as dodgeball," he said. "They're not even in the same universe. They are billions of miles apart. They are not even comparable."

Senibaldi also argued that when replacements for the games are brought forward, what is going to happen when a new group of kids don't want to play.

Board member Dr. Jerome Rekart deferred to the physical education professionals, saying that the board doesn't want to get in a position of micro-managing their decisions.

Chairman Mike Joanis said that "plenty of other opportunities for physical education" could be found rather than human target games.

O'Connor said that seven of the 10 games actually met all six NASPE National Standards, set in 2004, for a physically educated person.

But he said while the recommendation was hard for the leadership to make, they decided that the NASPE position on human target games overruled the seven games meeting the standards.

For a copy of the complete physical education study, visit here.

Mrs. K March 22, 2013 at 02:48 AM
If you go to NASPE position statements it will explain it all to you. Human Target games do not need to be taught in Physical Education. It has an article that will explain why we do not support Dodgeball in school. Please keep in mind that some schools play these games all the time. Like once or twice a week along with kickball and such. We have so many other options to teaching the same important issues you were mentioning without dodgeball being one of them. They might meet parts of the standard, but they do not go along with NASPE and their position with no human target games. I teach more than just physical activity and that is something that I did not make clear enough. You can also check out SPARK curriculum if you more ideas on some great ways that physical education should be taught and what students should be learning as they progress from Kindergarten through high school. I am so sorry that I did not explain exactly every little detail about how and what I teach. We do play team sports and other competitive games in class. I should have made that clear. My apologies! :-)
One Man Wolf Pack March 22, 2013 at 02:58 AM
Thank you for dispensing with personal attacks and clearing up the matter. However, in reviewing your comments it is hard not to notice your propensity to make a personal attack when confronted with an opposing argument. While I am an adult and have had the opportunity to be exposed to this I am not always as restrained when dealing with it and often degrade to that level when confronted with it. Then again I am not an educator and you are; it would be my expectation that you are better at teaching such things and that it is actually second nature. Please make it a point to work on that as your students cannot be given that example from their staff.
Interesting... March 22, 2013 at 03:03 AM
Mrs. K, Nice of you to hop in. You are brave. Be assured not all in town are of the mindset of the comments you read on Patch. With every passing day, it seems to have become more of a place for a negative dump. Many that have something positive to say, just don't post it because of the harsh attacks about every single written word. Unsure where civil, constructive dialogue can be found, but it's not on Patch.
Mrs. K March 22, 2013 at 03:12 AM
Interesting - I totally understand. I also know that without face to face contact it is hard to read people's reactions and body language. I am passionate about what I do and I love my students. I don't need someone else to tell me what I do is wrong or that I am a horrible person. I have the best job in the world and I am very blessed. I will remember that and stick to more positive posting places. Thank you Interesting and God Bless you for kindness.
One Man Wolf Pack March 22, 2013 at 03:16 AM
@Interesting, nice to see you back, when you care to have a constructive discussion you know where you can find me. I'm working on "civil", but as I stated above I often speak to the level of who I am speaking with. As for others, I can only offer my attempts as an example, as I have zero say in how others conduct themselves.
One Man Wolf Pack March 22, 2013 at 03:26 AM
One other thing; these people vote in town elections. Like it or not there are not a whole lot of options to reach the people and interact with them to hear differing points of view and sway opinion. So if you are serious about the issues facing this town the patch had better be on your radar as it certainly is on the voters'.
One Man Wolf Pack March 22, 2013 at 04:01 AM
"I also know that without face to face contact it is hard to read people's reactions and body language." I would also add that vocal inflection, emphasis, sarcasm, and pronunciation are not well translated either. But, I could not agree more and that is a problem with this medium of communications. I prefer debate, Lincoln v. Douglas style as practiced by the National Educational Debate Association; an area my education has thankfully exposed me to.
WHS Student March 22, 2013 at 09:49 AM
oh calm down people. it's dodgeball. it's a GAME. personally, i'm neutral on the matter because it really does not matter that much. oh a kid got hit in dodgeball? it's not a big deal. if your kid got "targeted" it's because another kid wanted to just get them out so they could win. most of the time, it isn't personal. this is coming from a student that isn't very competitive and has gotten hit before and probably by more than one person at a time. see how i said "probably?" that's because i'm not sure because it didn't really effect me much. it's a matter of kids being too sensitive. plus, in gym you get hit/hurt regardless of what you are playing. so stop talking like sue-crazy americans and realize how ridiculous you're being.
WHS Student March 22, 2013 at 09:51 AM
@Mrs. K : umm.... kids will get in fights regardless. it's just a matter of it being provoked. eliminating dodgeball won't eliminate fights. and when i did cupstacking and square dancing, most people treated it as a joke. cupstacking=standing there. square dancing = awkwardly walking around the gym near other people.
soc March 22, 2013 at 11:13 AM
Maybe you grew up to letter in 3 sports due to being 'pushed' a bit in PE class. I know I did. It provided an level 'monitored' playing field not provided in the playground or in our own backyards. It is not that I'm enamored by dodge ball but disagree with you and your husband that this game has been a 'staple' of the playground for more then any of us have been alive.
soc March 22, 2013 at 11:22 AM
I can't believe a PE school teacher just posted this. You have to be kidding me cupstacking and dancing are very important. Maybe if it involved some 'circuit' of skills where they not only learned fine motor skills by RAN and got their heart rate up over "video game mode". No wonder we have a society full of overweight kids. You have other options to "pull from your quiver" if you don't feel that you have the skills to control your "classroom". But in the end do we really need a POLICY/BAN. To me this just exemplifies the loss/inability to control the classroom by a teacher (it isn't all the parents fault...but is a skill).
soc March 22, 2013 at 11:26 AM
What I don't get out of this is that it is an elimination game. If you are Brick Heck you get nicked (or slammed) and you sit down. If you are Sue Heck you work up a sweat and probably sit down within a few rounds. Now if you are playing floor hockey hey do you want to see gang mentality or picking on the 'little kid'. Is that a "human target game"?
soc March 22, 2013 at 11:31 AM
Thank you WHS Student...lets remove everything that can possibly be construed as a liability, not fair to those of lesser skills...gee we might not have anything left!
Celia Brown March 22, 2013 at 02:48 PM
@Interesting - it's ok to be a parent in this case. Establish a trusting relationship so that your bullied child has an outlet, address it with the school like every other parent, and move on. The points made in this blog strike a nerve because the nanny school board feels that they are better parents than we are - that's the perception. Because if the board pulls any other 'study out of their a**, they will attempt to further impose their will on your kid and your parental responsibilities. And by the way, if getting beaned by a ball is the worse experience your kid goes through in middle school, consider yourself lucky. I had to do the birds and bees thing with my kids when they started WMS. That unimposing yellow bus that picks up your kid.....sex ed, drugs ed, bullying all on wheels. WSD was a few years late in putting cameras in the bus. i bet some of the video can be considered pay per view. So please getting beaned by a ball? Please........cmon really?
Celia Brown March 22, 2013 at 02:58 PM
Well if someone constantly stepped on my foot during square-dancing, i'd throw a punch or two
Celia Brown March 22, 2013 at 03:01 PM
Parental Association Now Sabotaging Taxpayers- W.I.N.S. Parental Association Now Sabotaging Teachers and Youth - W.E.A.
Celia Brown March 22, 2013 at 03:20 PM
Good points. Shame, We all thought that the WSB learned their lesson with the Vote of No Confidence. Ahh the value of outside input from students, ex students, and constituents on a topic. WSB still operating in a vacum...shame
Dave (The Original) March 22, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Hi Wolf, I was actually never bulled. I'm sure I encountered a few times when I was the one picked on, but nothing excessive. Honestly I don't think dodgeball taught me anything, it was just fun. Again, I'm not saying I agree with the decision, just that I understand their concerns over human target sports. I think they could have come to a better solution though. The sad things is that both sides have taken a my way or else mentality. The WSB went to far just banning it, while those mad about the decision are just spouting off that it's fine just as it was and it's a learning experience. Both sides could work together to find a solution, but unfortunately the vitriol has become the status quo for both sides, and everyone is the worse off for it.
Windham Jaguar March 22, 2013 at 04:41 PM
So all it takes is one complaint and it is banned in all schools? You know what, I don't like weight lifting in PE, I'll be sure to complain to the school board about it.
soc March 25, 2013 at 12:28 PM
Out of curiosity...has anyone read the link in the article on the "human target games"? I suspect that most just read the article and related it to their youth experience.... Although most were directly related to "dodge ball" that I knew. They were all modified in some manner. Notice the term "nerf" and "foam ball", for instance. The funny part of this is that each of the game variants were compared to 6 national standards criteria to evaluate if they met the criteria. 8 out of the 10 activities met the criteria. @Mrs K. - why would you remove activities that meet all the criteria and replace with some that don't "stacking cups"
Chris Spitalere March 28, 2013 at 02:56 PM
Wow I'm glad I graduated this school before this all happened. This is probably the most pathetic thing I have ever read. It's a strategic game that needs to have a winner. Never in ones lifetime will there ever be a time where everyone is a winner. Wake up!! I can't stand people who need to make everything equal for everyone. Someone wins and someone loses. Deal with it. If people are goin to just stand in the middle of the game and not play then obviously they are going to be taken out first. That's no one else's problem except your child's. if they want to sit and color and not do any of the activity in gym then sign them up for an art class. Sorry if your child doesn't want to put effort in and be good at a simple game in gym but that's not anyone else's problem except that child's. I went to the Windham schools from 3rd grade all the way until I graduated from Windham high in 2012 and I played these games every single year. Like I said before, I didn't know such pathetic parents would honestly make complaints about such a harmless game.
Nate March 28, 2013 at 04:16 PM
I hope the school board saw the fox 25 news last night.The anchors had to actually comment themselves about this decision and how ridiculous it was.
mumsnsuns4 March 28, 2013 at 06:35 PM
Chris, You're 100% correct. What does the future look like, when a society is hell bent on keeping kids "feelings" in tact. Life has lots of lessons to learn. As adults,dhildren leave the home. They will , at some time be faced with adversity. Mommy will not always be there to smooth over the rough spots. When my children were young, I hated violence and guns. I never bought my kids toy weapons of any kind.( I read all those books.) I listened to the "professionals". Ya know what? they made their swords and guns out of sticks that they found in the woods. Kids will be kids. Plain and simple. It is however, the duty of a parent to teach kindness,compassion humility,self reliance and pride in a job well done. With those attributes, maybe we can save the future
Helen Z. Munroe March 29, 2013 at 12:09 PM
Please click on the link below to sign the petition started by WMS student Michael Senibaldi to the school board to allow Nerf Ball games back into gym class. https://www.change.org/petitions/windham-school-board-please-let-nerf-ball-games-continue-in-gym-class?share_id=rmkBLiEfWP&utm_campaign=friend_inviter_chat&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=permissions_dialog_true ... . .
GrassisGreener March 29, 2013 at 12:24 PM
Really what purpose is this petition going to serve? The P.E. teachers in our district did this research and based on THEIR research THEY recommended these games be banned from the curriculum. In order for anything to be removed from the curriculum it has to be approved by the School Board. They agreed 4-1 to take the recommendation of the educators (i.e. the P.E. Teachers) as they should. Stop blaming the School Board for this but rather blame your P.E. teachers for their recommendation. If they don't recommend it be eliminated; the School Board doesn't ban them. Pretty simple. And open your eyes, these games have been banned by entire States and many many many School Districts across the U.S. Nothing new and eventually it'll be banned everywhere. FWIW...I loved this game too and was a "Hunter" not the "Hunted"! So you get this petition then what? The P.E. teachers DO NOT believe these should be taught in our schools (per their recommendation) so guess what happens? You guessed it, they will not teach them. Agreed the School Board could have saved the publicity by simply saying, "We're not banning it but if you want to stop teaching it, have at it!" I guess it would be nice for democracy to work and Dennis' kid gets his wish to over turn the ban. If I'm a P.E. teacher I still don't use these games.
WHS Student March 29, 2013 at 12:34 PM
http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/highschool-prep-rally/hampshire-school-district-bans-dodgeball-fears-encourages-bullying-105525261.html
SamIam March 29, 2013 at 12:39 PM
The school board ignored multiple petitions and citizens petition warrant article on the ballot in 2008 for school colors-mascot....what makes you think they will honor this petition...lol We use the word "professionals' alot in our Windham schools, but our education leaders and teachers as a whole have been anything but professionals if you look at the going ons in our schools since 2007ish....Its out of hand....
GrassisGreener March 29, 2013 at 12:44 PM
Sam, I get the colors one and kind of why the end of my statement was "it would be nice for democracy to work". You can't blame these 5 people as they were not on the Board during the color fiasco. Hope this isn't a repeat of that. A. Dumb to ban it B. PE teachers just stop using it if you don't believe in them C. Zero debate
SamIam March 29, 2013 at 01:12 PM
History repeats itself and Mrs. Whimmer was a key figure behind the scenes of the colors-mascot issue as WHS Integration Committee member who stated the whole thing.
Brett Mueller April 03, 2013 at 10:49 PM
I find it incredibly interesting that after so many places have passed rules like this to avoid tragedies like the Sandy Hook tragedy, that we are experiencing more of such tragedies than ever before. Imagine that!

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