Lincoln Elementary students go Gaga

Student council works to add ball game to playground

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The student council at Lincoln Elementary School has been hard at work this year. Through events and fundraising, the group is bringing a new game to the playground — Gaga ball.

Gaga ball is perfect for the school, the students said during a March meeting at the school, 710 S. Pennsylvania St. It’s simple and easy to learn. Gaga ball is similar to dodgeball and is played with a soft foam ball. Players try to hit each other below the knees to get people out.

“It’s a game that they entire school can play. You don’t have to be a really fast runner or a really good shooter or really tall,” said Layne Ballenger, who is in fifth grade at Lincoln. “I go to camp during the summer and I had a lot of fun playing it.”

Tiffany Berry, the teacher who helps run the student council, said students have been working on getting Gaga ball since the school year started. She jokingly added that her son, Alexander, set the precedent after promising the game during his election campaign.

Lily Wynn, a fifth-grader, and Alexander, a fourth-grader, said they wanted to bring the game to the playground to have something new. After surveying their fellow students, the council decided that Gaga ball would replace one of the climbing rocks in the Lincoln playground.

Council students work in the school store during lunch breaks as a fundraiser. They sell school supplies such as pencils and erasers, but also fun trinkets for students — fidget spinners and mini-toy animals. Erin Walker, another Lincoln teacher, said working in the store helps to teach the students business skills such as customer service and counting change.

Funds earned at the store, as well as seasonal events such as the holiday gift shop, go to student council projects. This year, the students are hoping to earn enough to build a 21-foot diameter court for Gaga ball.

Wynn, the student council treasurer, announced at the beginning of the March meeting that the students had raised $2,936.30. Janine Donelson said they were starting to get close to covering the $3,100 cost of the game. Donelson is another teacher who helps with council.

Part of the reason the game is so expensive, said parent Kelly Ballenger, is that Denver Public Schools requires composite board instead of regular wood. Composite is safer and won’t splinter like regular wood, but is more expensive. Ballenger said they will have to ship in the material.

She added that they would likely need to bring community members together to put together and install Gaga ball.

Every year, the student council picks a project that benefits community organizations. In the past, Donelson said students have done food and penny drives. “This year, we decided let’s do something for our school,” Berry said of the council project.

“The thing about Gaga ball is it’s not just going to be for the students, it’s going to be for the community,” she added. “The community, they use that playground and during the summer — it’s going to get used.”

Because students have worked so hard all year, Ballenger is hopeful they won’t have to use all the money the council has raised. But time is running out. Berry said they are hoping to install the game in April so Lincoln students can use it this year. Some of the kids in the council are leaving the school this year, so Berry is hopeful they can use the game they worked so hard to bring to the school.

“We’ve worked really hard to get this. We’re just short,” said Berry. “We’re short on time because some of these kids are going to move on. We’d really like them to have the chance to use our Gaga Ball.”

While the students are also hoping to use the game, many are also excited to have worked on a project that will bring lasting impact to the playground.

“Once I move on, I’ll be happy that I made a difference in the community that shows still,” said Katie Aron, a fifth-grader at Lincoln. “I want to be part of something that will stay forever.”

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