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Neighbors of DuPage

Gaga Ball comes to Lace School

Sep 07, 2017 10:44AM ● By Ben Scott

Gaga is a variant of dodgeball played with one ball. The game combines dodging, striking, running, and jumping, with the object of being the last person standing. Players hit the ball at each other with their hands, and are eliminated if the ball strikes them on or below the knee. The game can be played by a group of individual players or with teams.

What started, as the wishes of Lace School’s past fifth graders became a reality this summer! For the past several years fifth grade students have been trying hard to persuade Lace School’s principal, Erin Dwyer, that a Gaga Ball Pit was needed on the playground. In fact, during the 2015-2016 school year, students in Mr. Bob Johnson’s fifth grade classroom took the art of persuasion to the next level. Mr. Johnson embedded the subject of the gaga pit into a cross-curricular project. Students in the class were grouped and were assigned various tasks. These tasks ranged from writing a persuasive essay, compiling a summary of pros and cons, taking a survey of students, designing a pit, and creating the rules of the game. After the compilation of the tasks, students were asked to present their projects to the class and the Ms. Dwyer. Students presented their ideas through various medias; integrating technology and art. This group of students solidified the idea of adding the game to the playground, and work began to find a way to install a pit at the school.

Because of several successful past partnerships with community Eagle Scouts candidates, the District reached out to contacts to determine if there was interest amongst any current Eagle Scout candidates. From there, Nicholas Henneman, a Sophomore at Hinsdale Central and a member of Troop 52, contacted Lace School with interest to complete the project. Nicholas worked with the school and his troop to secure the project, design the pit, secure funding, and build and install the project. In order to complete the project Nicholas recruited several of his Eagle Scout peers to assist him. These members included; Carl Hinchman, Carter Smith, Nate Niesen, Luke Leddy, and Cole Harris.

Because of the strong school/community partnership, the wishes of Lace School’s past students finally became a reality.

When asked why this project was important to Nicholas, he stated, “Gaga ball is a big part of the Cub Scout/ Boy Scout culture, so I was pretty excited to find out that you (Lace School) needed a gaga pit. I have played gaga many times at camp (particularly as a young Cub Scout) with the scouts who helped build the pit. The hardest part of the project was drilling the holes, since I was new with a drill and the countersunk holes were a challenge. The assembly was actually fun. The biggest challenge during the assembly was getting everything to align perfectly. After finishing, we played a couple rounds of gaga ball, which was, of course, the best part. I also enjoyed reading the Lace School kids' letters/pleas for a gaga pit. I hope that they will have fun using it.”

We, at Lace School, would like to extend a huge thank you to Nicholas for the planning and implementation of this project. We wish him much luck in his future endeavors as he moves on to complete his Eagle Scout requirements. His work will have a great impact on the students of Darien 61 and neighborhood families for years to come. 

Erin Dwyer is the principal of Lace School