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Learning teamwork: Henderson students get lessons in trust

By Sarah Nagem
snagem@salisburypost.com
Some Henderson Independent School students learned an important lesson Wednesday, and it had nothing to do with algebraic equations or grammar.
They learned about the need to work together to get something done.
About a dozen Henderson students spent the day at the East Rowan YMCA. They participated in team-building exercises and prepared to climb the ropes course.
Alexis Morris, a 17-year-old senior, emerged as a team leader when she and five others faced a challenge in the rain. They each had to stand on two pieces of wood and hold on to ropes while they stepped in unison.
Synchronization was everything. Morris was in the back, calling out cues so everyone would know when to step.
Morris said the activity forced her classmates to cooperate.
“It was all right,” she said. “I liked it.”
Some students in the East Rowan High School Junior ROTC program, along with their instructor, Lt. Col. Rollins Collins, helped the Henderson students with the activities. The program was a joint effort with the East Rowan YMCA.
Some lessons obviously can’t be taught from textbooks or lectures. The activities students engaged in Wednesday are valuable, said Rodney Smith, assistant principal at Henderson.
“They learn to trust one another,” Smith sad “They learn to overcome obstacles.
“With a lot of our kids, that’s the big issue ó trust. Because they’re all relying on themselves.”
During one exercise, students folded their hands in front of their bodies and leaned back, allowing their classmates to catch them.
DeMarcus Jefferies, 18, said he sometimes has trouble trusting people. But the Henderson senior took a leap of faith and decided to trust his classmates for the activity.
Another exercise required students to cross their arms and join hands, then untangle themselves to form a big circle.
“You can’t give up every time it doesn’t work,” Jeff Mims, an 11th-grade Junior ROTC member at East, said to encourage the students.
One group of Henderson students and staff tried about three times before they successfully untangled themselves.
The accomplishment prompted high-fives and cheers.
These types of activities allow students to problem solve, Collins said. They also teach kids how to work together.
Students were supposed to work in pairs for the ropes course, which would have put them 35 feet in the air. Heavy rain Wednesday forced school leaders to delay the climbs, but students are scheduled to return to the YMCA next week.
The activities Wednesday coincided with graduation awareness week, which was being observed across the state. Many schools put an extra emphasis last week on the need to graduate.
“One of the biggest obstacles for these kids is getting their high school diploma,” Smith said.
Some students said they plan to graduate from high school and continue on from there.
Jefferies said he is considering college, and Morris wants to join the Air Force.
Morris welcomed the challenges she faced Wednesday. As if coordinating six people’s foot movements weren’t hard enough in clear weather, these students achieved it in the rain.
Morris didn’t mind. She saw the weather ó and the fact that she was wearing sandals instead of sneakers ó simply as obstacles to overcome.
Which was, of course, the whole point of the day’s activities.

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