Flambeau students will soon be able to join two new clubs with the goal of rounding out opportunities for showcasing talents and developing lifelong enjoyment. At the Wednesday, Nov. 20 school board meeting, school board members approved forming an esports club and fishing club.

CESA 10 Instructional Technology Coach Jesse Schwingle presented the opportunity for Flambeau to form an esports club that could, if there’s enough interest, become a varsity sport at the school. Esports are a change from normal sports culture, said Schwingle. In short, esports are competitive video gaming but with many opportunities for strategy, leadership, social development and more.

Wisconsin High School Esports Association allows participating students, also known as scholar gamers, from 70 Wisconsin schools to compete in tournaments in eight-week long seasons in the fall and spring. Esports are co-ed and allow students in seventh grade and up to participate.

Students would complete in two different styles of games rated “T” for team and “E” for everybody and spend approximately 1.5 hours one night a week completing virtually with teams across the state. Aside from a state tournament, competitions take place at the school, reducing the cost of the sport.

Wisconsin High School Esports Association is a non-profit association, “which governs, supports and promotes the growth of high school esports through community development, advocacy, equitable participation and interscholastic competition to enrich the educational experience.”

A preliminary survey of students showed there are at least 18 students who would be interested in joining the club.

Esports, said Schwingle, are shaking the realm of traditional colleges because there are a growing number of scholarships available to this new culture of gamers. A rising number of colleges are identifying valuable job skills gamers possess.

While the stereotypical view on video games is that gamers are sedentary, basement dwellers. The goal of esports is to turn the negative stigma around, according to Schwingle. Esports strive to bring kids out of the basement and into a socially positive environment to interact with those with similar interests.

The sport targets students who may not be super athletic but still have a drive to compete and those who have other sometimes overlooked skills. The sport works to bring scholar gamer talents in the spotlight and connect them to the culture of the school, said Schwingle.

Esports will start as a club where it can gain momentum and then become a sport where students can letter. Students work in teams as they compete which help them develop skills like team working, communication, problem solving, hardware and software technology development, marketing, broadcasting and commentary skills.

According to Schwingle, esports also tie into developing skills of a digital footprint like literacy and technology skills.

School board members also approved a fishing club for students in grades five and up to teach fishing skills for life long enjoyment. The club would give students the opportunity to learn about the sport of fishing, technology of fishing, fish, local area lakes and build fundraising skills.

Other area schools have fundraised to make the club self-supported and with the help of volunteers have made the club an opportunity for student enrichment.

Also discussed was the recent release of school report card results which moved three points down to 68.3, meets expectations, in the 2018-2019 school year. District Administrator Erica Schley said the school is using the results as talking points to better students, teachers and improve on what things may be lacking.

The report card scores are based on many factors including ACT scores, graduation rates, attendance and test scores. Since making attendance a priority, the school is no longer being penalized on that factor, according to Schley.

While the scores are important, Schley said it is also important to pay attention to the other important information and data on the report cards.

Agriculture Technology Education teacher Jenna Behrends and four FFA students shared their experience during a recent FFA national convention. Participating in FFA readies students to secure a future agricultural career.

The next Flambeau school board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 18.

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