Jamestown High School students recently ran around the Gateway Center's laser tag during a physical education class. Even though the students were obviously having fun playing the game, they are also gained physical fitness benefits.
''It's an adrenaline rush and you sweat,'' said JHS senior Katelyn Logren. ''It's different than going to a regular physical education class. A new activity keeps you motivated to move and it's fun.''
The unique collaboration came about when physical education teacher Mark Nugent approached the center about using its extensive facilities.
Jamestown High School sophomore Makayla Marcotte plays laser tag at the Gateway Center as part of physical education class.
''We are always looking for new ideas for our program and we want to make students aware of the lifelong fitness activities we have in the community,'' said Mr. Nugent. ''The ice arena opened their doors for us and has been very popular with our students. We have a large number of students who are talented on skateboards and bikes, and heard that the Gateway Center is where many go after school. Some students have never been to these venues and it gives them exposure to new community activities, like ice skating, that they can also pursue outside the school day, places which provide a safe and positive environment.''
The Gateway Center benefits too.
''We love making connections with JHS students,'' said Amy Rohler, executive director of Community Helping Hands, who donated the use of the facility. ''We have a safe environment where youth can come and play physical activities but we also hold youth concerts, have a game room and put on other activities where they can hang out on the weekends or after school. We hope to make future partnerships with JHS to continue our collaboration.''
The physical education classes are just one of many ways Jamestown High School fosters community connections between local organizations and students. The JHS Art Department and Cibo Restaurant on Third Street collaborate to display student artwork.
''The partnership began with Cooper's and continues with Cibo,'' said JHS art teacher Stephanie Cutrona. ''We display new artwork every month and they also host a JPS Art Teacher Show. It's a great self-esteem booster for our artists to see their work displayed in public. And for students who are interested in becoming professional artists, it is a way for them to interact with, and make contacts in the community.''
Mr. Ellis was so pleased with the student work that he purchased a still life from JHS sophomore Kavita Oza.
''From a young age I have always been artistically involved especially in music. I have a passion for the arts,'' said Mr. Ellis. ''I feel like I'm giving the kids an opportunity to have their artwork seen by the public. Kavita's still life is a beautiful piece and was professionally framed by I've Been Framed. It's my marquee attraction.'' Daryl Damcott's Drawing and Design for Production (DDP) class is just beginning a partnership with Joint Neighborhood Project (JNP) as part of the Creating Healthy Places (CHP) to Live, Work and Play grant. The CHP gave JNP a mini-grant to use for materials and supplies in order to expand their community gardens. Mr. Damcott's DDP class began efforts to design a raised garden planting bed next to the JNP parking lot and to expand the existing planting bed behind the Immanuel Lutheran Church. The DDP class will design the beds, create the list of materials needed for construction and then build the beds for the JNP.
''It's not unusual for high school students to think there is nothing to do in their community,'' said JHS Principal Mike McElrath. ''It's also not unusual for youth to get a collective bad rap from the actions of a few. Projects such as these, linking schools and community, go a long way to offset these dynamics.''