A rock climbing wall that guarantees to challenge, motivate and improve the physical well being of students is now in place at Frontier Elementary School.
The wall was purchased with a portion of $97,000 the school received last year from a Carol P. White PET grant. The grant must be used for the teaching of physical education and health.
Frontier physical education teacher and PHS wrestling coach Rich Ormand will supervise use of the rock wall after school every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the school year, Ormand has been trained and certified to teach the rock climbing skills and oversee safety.
According to Frontier principal Gail Gorry, the rock wall is not a toy or a gimmick, but rather a means for children to improve their cardiovascular condition and strengthen their upper body and legs.
"The wall is a very heart-healthy piece of equipment," she said.
Through a series of wall games, the children who use it will learn to work together and cooperate with one another.
"One thing they do is have two (students) climb the wall while inside a hula hoop," Gorry said. "Doing that, they learn to communicate effectively and work alongside one another to get to the top," Gorry said.
Ormand's curriculum also will include courtesy and safety while climbing.
Gorry stressed that students will not be allowed to use the wall without the supervision of a certified and trained teacher.
Although the wall will be used mostly by Frontier students, Gorry said she would be willing to allow its use by other groups, such as Boy Scouts, as long as it was properly supervised."
In addition to purchasing the wall with the grant, Gorry is buying heart-rate monitors and pedometers for an upcoming school project. She also has bought a series of blacktop games for use in PE and during recess and the lunch period.
Grant money was used last year to pay Ormand's PE teaching salary because the district did away with all elementary PE positions due to budget cuts. PE has been restored this year to all elementary schools.
According to Gorry, PUSD has applied for another PET grant that would be used this year district wide.
"We haven't heard yet whether we will get it," she said.