(Riverton, Wyo.) – When Summer School students at Riverton Middle School talked about a plan that had been advanced for a dog park at the venerable Tonkin Stadium on high school hill, a few of them thought something more appropriate for kids would be a better idea. As an exercise, the students were challenged to come up with their own ideas, and they did.
The sixth, seventh and eighth grade students came up with dozens of ideas, narrowed down their lists and are now preparing presentations that each class will make to a board of school district officials and administrators on Friday morning.
“It’s a project-based learning assessment which is entirely technology driven,” said Bill Esposito, an 8th grade summer school teacher at RMS. “It will be a mock proposal session, so the kids learn how to participate in the democratic process.”
Fellow instructor Alma Law said the project is for the English Language Arts portion of summer school, which ends, coincidently, Friday. “The exercise is to show adolescents how to make a difference when voting isn’t an option. They have been learning highly collaborative technology to research and prepare their proposals,” he said.
While it will not be a board meeting, Law “thoughts will be generated and the student’s voices heard.”
In the 8th grade classroom, two teams of four students each were working on their ideas, a Splash Park and a Game Arena.
Students Jonah Kreitzer, Matthew Shelley, Riley Foos and Chris Houser had designed their splash park to look like a wolverine paw. Matt they students looked at what Riverton had and didn’t have for kids and what they would like to have. “We already have a swimming pool, but we don’t have a splash park,” he said. It would be safe, made of a rubberized material and it would not need a lifeguard.”
A second team in the class, made up of Quinton Shorter, Matthew Hallam, Abby Gartzke, Tarren Friday and Helen Monroe were working on the Game Arena idea. It would be multipurpose. “It could be somewhere for Nerf wars, laser tag and water fights, or a paint ball, air soft area,” said Shorter. “It will bring us all together for fun things, rather than doing bad things,” he said. Hallam added that he had already secured potential donations to help set up the area from a couple of businesses to keep the cost down. And the class did a video of an Air Soft battle to show at the presentation.
Over in the sixth grade classroom, each of the teams had something to report:
• Aquateam said: “Tonkin is the best place for a swimming pool/ice skating rink where everybody can enjoy the nice summer breeze and the cold winter air because It is the best entertainment source for all ages.”
• Rec Center team suggested: “Tonkin stadium should become an amazing and exciting recreation center for kids to have fun, so there will be many different kinds of entertainment.”
• Dirt Bike Track team recommended: ”Tonkin should be turned into a big dirt bike track because It will provide entertainment and activity for the kids of Riverton.”
• The Airsoft5 team said they thought: “Tonkin Stadium should be turned into an airsoft arena because it is a great way for kids to get outside and play in an inexpensive way. Kids need a way to have fun and burn energy.”
• The Airsoft4 team said they also believed that Tonkin should be made into an airsoft arena. “An airsoft arena would be inexpensive and a lot of fun for kids in Riverton. Also, our town would be the only place in the state with this type of arena.”
Hallam said the ideas could help the quality of life in Riverton. “Entrepreneurs are looking for places for activities for the families that would move here. It’s the placement theory,” he said. “Laramie, Douglas and Ten Sleep already have splash parks.”
Shorter said whatever is put in Tokin, or what it is used for, “should be for kids. We are the future, and it’s school property so it should benefit kids and be something we like.”
Shaundi Gopp and Andi Bradshaw, teachers in the sixth grade room, noted that the activity fulfills requirements for the language arts standards of the district through the use of laptop computers, for engagement.
“The students have put a great deal of effort and thought into these proposals, and they feel strongly that if they speak up, the community may understand how much this means to them. The students want to make the stadium into something that can be enjoyed by the community and especially the youth of Riverton. They feel that the space should be put to good use in a way that brings people together and gives kids a place to socialize through active play,” Gopp and Bradshaw both said.