Challenges filled the half-day of school Friday at Campo Verde as students engaged in some friendly competition, met new friends and bonded with their pack.
Hula hoop competitions, water balloon tosses and tug-of-war challenges filled the half-day of school Friday at Campo Verde as students engaged in some friendly competition, met new friends and bonded with their pack.
It was a spirited day as the 750 freshmen and sophomores from the new Gilbert Unified School District high school went from activity to activity, culminating in a finale of challenges in the gymnasium for the "Pack Attack" field day.
There was a cake eating contest, a plastic egg on a spoon relay, and a beach ball pass. Students played musical chairs, ate a doughnut on a string and competed in sack races.
The goal is making new connections, fostering mentoring opportunities and learning to bond and trust friends not in your grade or in your circle of friends, said Amie Brockway, a sophomore English teacher who helped organize the day's events.
"Campo Verde has become an amazing place to be because of the efforts of the teachers to be a community," Brockway said. "The kids are just really excited to be here."
Seventeen to 18 students were randomly assigned to each pack since the beginning of the school year, and each Friday the packs spend 30 minutes between first and second hours in "Pack Time" doing activities and projects together. In December, the packs will compete in a schoolwide dodgeball tournament.
Packs earn points throughout the year, such as winning games during Friday's activities, earning tickets for students caught doing something good, and through different events. Semester prizes will be given, and at the end of the year, the top 10 packs with the most points will choose from a list of prizes.
It's an idea brought to the school by Principal Jared Ryan, who did the same thing the past four years as principal of the Gilbert Learning Center, the district's alternative school for grades seventh through 12th. The packs will continue as an annual tradition as long as he is at Campo Verde, Ryan said.
"We want kids to know each other and learn leadership and team building," Ryan said. "We don't want the freshmen to be scared of the seniors (or older students since Campo Verde doesn't have seniors yet). It's about life lessons and being the best you can possibly be."
On Friday, some packs dressed alike with the name of their pack on their shirts or bandannas. Other teams made signs and created their own cheers. Each pack has a name chosen by the students, such as Pack Ali, Pack Mule and Pack American Soldier.
Sophomore Kaylie Rodrigues is a part of Pack Gates, named after Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. Her pack received fifth place after Friday's activities.
"When I first started, I didn't know the people in my pack," said Kaylie, 16, editor of the yearbook and a reporter for the school newspaper. "Today, we were really able to bond. We exchanged (phone) numbers to hang out during fall break. Today, we came together as a group to win."
Kaylie especially liked the piggyback ride activity, where the student on the back of the blindfolded student giving the ride had to direct that person through the cone obstacle course.
"It was fun," she said. "It really pumped me up. I'm glad I came because I enjoyed it and I got to meet new people."
Freshman Josh McDowell is a member of Pack Tillman, named after Pat Tillman, a linebacker for Arizona State University and a defensive back for the Arizona Cardinals who died while serving as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan. Josh is on the freshman football team.
"Today was about bringing everybody together and to get everyone to know each other better," said Josh, 15, who wore a maroon shirt with the words Pack Tillman in gold. "I think it worked. I met more people (today) and became better friends (with my pack)."