JACKSON – A gaga court has nothing to do with a noted musician/actress but it can be a lot of fun. Gaga is a fast paced, high energy sport played in an octagonal pit and thanks to the Elms Elementary School Parent Teacher Network, students at the school will soon be enjoying some gaga action.
Dubbed a kinder gentler version of dodge ball, the game is played with a soft foam ball, and combines the skills of dodging, striking, running, and jumping, while trying to hit opponents with a ball below the knees.
During a recent school board meeting the PTN was thanked publicly, for its donation of $2,500 for the purchase and installation of a recycled plastic gaga court that will be placed in the playground area behind Elms.
Present to accept the check and provide thanks to the PTN was Elms School Principal Michael Burgos who joined School Board President Scott Sargent, Vice President Vicki Grasso and Board member John Burnetsky in thanking PTN Co-President Laura Spencer for the donation. The presentation took place last month at the Jackson Memorial High School Fine Arts Center.
“I can’t say enough about our PTN. They do a phenomenal job in supporting our school initiatives with fundraisers and that money goes back to our school and students,” Burgos said.
Burgos, who has served as principal at the school for six years, noted that it was the PTN that had identified a need for a “safe, fun and engaging activity for our students at recess. We were looking at something that would be cost effective, fun and exciting for the students at the same time.”
“Right now, the materials are on order and through parent and teacher volunteers we should be able to snap together what is recycled plastic parts together in the next few weeks,” Burgos said.
Spencer, a former school teacher, said the PTN was established in 2003 the year that the Elms school opened. “I’ve had children in Elms since 2009, and I know the PTN was active then. We are currently running our membership drive and have about 150 members and counting. We have a very active PTN and organize many fundraisers and family events throughout the school year,” Spencer said.
Among the projects the PTN is involved with include “Trunk or Treat which is new this year, candy bingo, winter fest, fun runs, a fall festival and more. The funds we raise go towards school supplies for our students,” Spencer said. Such items include planners and folders.
The PTN held its biggest fundraiser of the year on Nov. 3 at the school. “We had 300 gift baskets and a crowd of about 300. This was the fourth one we’ve done but the first time that the event was held during the fall,” Spencer said.
The group also supports field trips and assemblies. “Last year, we purchased a rock wall for our gym. The gaga court came from an idea when we brought the 5th grade on a trip to Black Bear Camp and they played in the gaga court there for such a long time and were having so much fun that we thought, what if we could have one for all our students,” Spencer said.
Spencer noted that along with classroom programs and materials that “it’s also important to have something for the students to enjoy and have fun with outside like the rock wall and gaga court.”
Burgos noted that another wonderful program that the PTN has is a teacher grant program. The grant money is used for teacher projects that are outside the school’s budget.
“We implemented the teacher grant program two years ago. Teachers were given grant applications that were submitted, reviewed, and selected by our Board members. These grants brought exciting and innovative programs and materials to our classrooms,” Spencer said.
This included iPads and programs for special needs students, games and literature, robots, and more. “Some grants included before and after school clubs that students could participate in such as STEM club, coding, robotics, physical fitness, drama and gardening,” Spencer added.
Spencer said that “last year we were able to award $7,000 in grants to teachers and plan to do so again this year.”