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Eighth graders challenge themselves on high ropes

Eighth grade girls visited the Character Challenge Course on Sept. 22. (Submitted photos)1 / 4
Eighth grade boys headed to the course a day earlier than the girls, on Sept. 21, to work on character and team building challenges.2 / 4
Students tackle the high ropes course.3 / 4
Students traverse "Postman's Walk," a bridge made of only two cables: a foot line and a hand line.4 / 4

Thanks to the generosity of the Century PTA, 8th grade boys and girls headed north to the Character Challenge Course for their C4 program for the fifth year.

"Our goal for this outdoor classroom is to teach lessons of character, team building, and social skills through the challenge activities and discussions, developing stronger relationships and strengthening communication skills," explained Michelle Fritze, Century Middle School interventionist. "It provides opportunity for social and emotional learning as they face their fears and overcome goals, integrating self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision making. The C4 opportunity challenges our 8th graders in ways most never thought possible."

One student, still shaking with adrenaline, asked Fritze why they would have this kind of retreat. "I replied that we have this retreat because these obstacles are a metaphor for life, sometimes far bigger than what we see at C4. It is here that we can learn that we often have fears like others, we are not in it alone, how we can work together, and the power we do hold. I saw countless students do the very things they didn't think they could and cheer on other students- who faced challenges they now understood," Fritze said.

As Nelson Mandela once said, "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."

"We were so proud of the students when they tried and persevered, whether it was putting on the gear they didn't want to, taking another step they thought they couldn't; doing the challenge shaking, trembling, or in tears, or reaching the goal and then some. Fears can hold us back or push us forward, but often great reward lies on the other side of facing our fear," Fritze said.

Fritze said staff observed team building as students worked together to overcome an obstacle. Students commented that it was one of the biggest challenges.

"We live in a culture that is so independent, it loses sight of the power and possibilities that can happen when we become a part of something bigger than ourselves. Learning to listen, respecting others and their opinions, and working together to solve a problem are skills challenged and needed as they face a world beyond themselves," Fritze said.