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Carpentry Seniors Build GaGa Ball Pit at Amherst Nord Middle School

The playground at Nord Middle School in Amherst has a new addition, thanks to the senior carpentry class. A “gaga” ball pit was officially opened on Friday, October 26th.

Jennifer Denn, Nord Middle School PTO’s Treasurer, reached out to the JVS to have this ball pit built and wanted to publicly thank the carpentry students for their hard work.

“The JVS carpentry students have been great, especially with our middle school students, who assisted with the building of this ball pit, and our kids and staff are so excited, we just can’t thank them enough,” said Denn.

Aaron Kukucka, carpentry senior from Amherst, explained how the ball pit project came together. “First we built all the walls separately and then assembled the pit in our carpentry lab at JVS. We brought it out here to the school’s playground, put it together, laid gravel down in it and then finally put down the turf.”

The project was enjoyable for Kukucka, but he mostly enjoyed being able to work one-on-one with a few of the middle school students. “They were pretty cool to work with and it was cute having them use the tools and work alongside us. I think they really had fun.” shared Kukucka. “

According to Denn, third graders, who spent two of the “comet cash” behavior rewards, were entered into a raffle to win a chance to help build the pit with the carpentry seniors. Those students whose names were drawn, wore hardhats, safety glasses and grabbed hammers to work alongside the senior students.

Nord Middle School PTO President, Sarah Yoder, is a strong supporter of the JVS and was excited to partner with them for this project. “The carpentry students have been so great with our students. They have been great role models for them, and they even gave up their lunch breaks to play kickball with them,” Yoder said.

Yoder feels that having the younger students work together with the JVS students, is also a way for them to see a little bit of what the JVS is about. “With our students having the opportunity to get the hands-on learning directly with the JVS students, it helped them get an understanding of what that type of learning is all about.”

The event concluded with the carpentry seniors, the middle school students and even some of the administration playing a game of gaga ball. There were shouts of joy and lots of laughs for all involved.

Gaga ball, is a friendlier version of dodge ball and is gaining in popularity due to its inclusive nature. All children, regardless of their athletic skill level, have the ability to play the game and win. The game is played inside a fenced hexagon pit, which is the structure the carpentry students built.