TROJAN TRIBUNE: WHS on the ropes

By Laila Fattal, Trojan Tribune Staff Writer

WHS gym teacher, Nancy Icopini’s long lasting dream of creating a ropes course for physical education students has finally come true this summer.

In January 2007, Icopini wrote a grant named ‘Physical Education, Science, and engineering Students in an Interdisciplinary Approach to Creating Curriculum – and Fun’ from the WHS Education Foundation to create the course. The ropes course totaled about thirty thousand dollars.

“It took a lot of time but every minute was worth it… everything we hoped it would be and I think it’ll add so many opportunities for the students to challenge themselves physically and emotionally,” said Icopini.

The dynamic course has seven elements as well as the static course which includes the dangle duo. There are team building activities such as balance and trust on the low elements throughout the woods.

In the static side, students are “connected to a cable running above each element with ‘sling-lines and lobster claws’ that attach to their harness,” said Icopini. “The Dynamic side is used by students who know how to do top-rope belaying as in rock climbing. Each climber is belayed to a partner on the ground walking under the element,” said Icopini.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking the first time but after you go up its pretty easy after that,” said Brandon Dorn (9). Leanna Krautkremer (9) agrees that it was “scary at first but it was a good experience. It’s scary at the top when you’re looking down.”

PJ McCourtney (9) said “it was an exhilarating experience.”

Shibaree Stirckland (9) on the other hand did not enjoy the course. “I didn’t like it because of the equipment. I wasn’t sure if it was tight enough… I was just scared.”

“What made this project unique is that it incorporated students from Engineering, Physics, and Outdoor Education in the design process. Students can explore many different physics concepts as they participate in the Challenge Course activities,” said Icopini.

In winter of 2007, a team of students from the Outdoor Education, Engineering, and Physics classes met to design the course and where to build it. Later in the spring, the team designed a storage shed to prevent vandalism and protect the gear.

A group of about 20 students, alumni, staff, and community members helped with the creation of the ropes course over the summer.

Icopini teaches ninth grade physical education alternating everyday with Avid. She also teaches Outdoor Education and Lifetime Activities. All of these classes get to use the ropes course.


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