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Students go 'gaga' for new sport

Castle Rock Elementary students raise money; gain approval for gaga ball pit

CASTLE ROCK – Later this week, construction will begin on an octagonal structure at Castle Rock Elementary (CRE) that will soon host fast-paced, high-energy matches of a sport that is gaining popularity in Douglas County — gaga ball.

Abby and Kenzie were introduced to gaga ball during an outdoor education trip and were immediately attracted to the fun and easy-to-learn game. 

It has been dubbed a “kinder, gentler version of dodge ball.” According to, the game is played with a soft foam ball, and combines the skills of dodging, striking, running and jumping, while trying to hit opponents with a ball below the knees.

Abby and Kenzie decided they wanted to bring the game to their school. In addition to creating 3D models of the wooden "pit" and raising money, they learned that they would need the permission of the principal and District.

That meant some pretty intimidating moments for sixth-grade students.

“It was really nerve racking to go in front of these really important adults to our school and our community,” Abby said. “Once we started going we got used to talking to them and we weren’t so nervous.”

It wasn’t long before they were gathering support from sponsors and the appropriate representatives at the District.

In fact, while they were told it could take weeks to get the green light, DCSD’s Risk Management department gave them approval on the spot.

Finally, three fundraisers, including a root beer float event, have raised the $500 needed.

The girls say the extra-curricular project has helped them strengthen their “Six Cs” and other 21st Century Skills.

In addition to the 4Cs – Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration and Communication, Castle Rock Elementary has added two more: Caring and Character.

Their teacher, Amy Gerali, says the project has been a great example of authentic learning. 

“I’m really excited that their passion is becoming an actual, tangible thing,” Gerali said. “They’ve had to use financial literacy, different 21st Century Skills, in order to see this come to life. It is really cool that they’re going to be able to leave a legacy.”

“We had to cross-reference a lot,” added the girls. “We had to go from Home Depot to Lowes to see which one had a better price for the bolts and stuff.”

Following this week’s construction, Castle Rock Elementary will be among a handful of schools that offer the sport, including Sage Canyon and Rock Ridge Elementary Schools, as well as Renaissance Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound Magnet School.

Also, in case you’re wondering, the students say there is no connection between the game and eccentric pop singer Lady Gaga.

“It’s a weird name. People always associate it with Lady Gaga,” Abby said with a laugh.

The name actually comes from its Israeli origins. In Hebrew it means, “touch-touch.” 

Regardless, the girls say the unique name makes the sport stand out. 

“You can’t confuse it with another sport like soccer or football. Once you hear gaga ball you know exactly what we’re talking about,” Kenzie said.

May 26, 2015 | By rmbarber | Category: District, Elementary Education, Risk Management, Schools

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