Saturday, October 4, 2003

Obstacle course aims to ease social hurdle



By Karen Gutierrez
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Marie Wesselman (left) and the other 12 members of her team jump in unison at the group jump rope station at Senior Fest at Simon Kenton High School, Independence.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
INDEPENDENCE - You've spent years in school together, and you still don't know half your classmates. Solution? Divide randomly into groups of 13, and then:

• Jump rope in unison.

• Wear blindfolds and try to find each other.

• Hold hands and pass a Hula-Hoop over your bodies without breaking the circle.

• Laugh. A lot.

So it went on Friday for about 250 seniors at Simon Kenton High School. Throughout the day, the class of 2004 did physical activities designed to build teamwork and break down barriers.

"You get to meet (classmates) and talk to them and find out they're pretty cool," senior Shay Coldiron said. "We've all been looking forward to it for a week or two."

Senior Fest started nine years ago at Simon Kenton. Since then, it has spread to two other Kenton County schools: Dixie Heights in Edgewood and Scott in Taylor Mill.

On Friday, students first heard a motivational speaker. Then about 45 volunteers, including parents and Army and Marine officials, helped them complete each challenge and discuss what they had learned.

The day before the event, the seniors find out which team they are on, which is always a big deal.

"They're like, 'Oh, no, I can't be in a group with her,' " guidance counselor Melinda Lloyd said.

But those concerns tend to fall away when 13 people are pushed together on a small wooden square, singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and trying not to let anyone fall off.

E-mail kgutierrez@enquirer.com




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