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Founders' Hall students mix it up after school

| Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, 4:56 a.m.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Robin McCabe offers encouragement as Sophia Yoder and Robert Weiss work on the exercise circuit during intramurals at McKeesport Area School District's Founders' Hall Middle School.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
McKeesport Area Middle School students Coree Scharritter and Chris Foster play a game of KanJam during an intramural program that takes place at Founders' Hall Middle School.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Michael McCabe, a teacher at Founders' Hall Middle School, works with Zach Marcic on hitting and bunting during an intramural program held twice a week.

McKeesport Area middle schoolers are developing athletic and academic skills through a new after-school program.

Founders' Hall intramurals were launched this school year by guidance counselor Robin McCabe and eighth-grade history teacher Michael McCabe.

The husband-and-wife team lead various activities on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Between 30 and 35 students are involved in intramurals, with an average of 15 students regularly participating.

Robin McCabe said they wanted to give students something positive to do after school.

“It's to keep them involved and to build relationships with them,” she said.

“They really appreciate the time and effort the teachers put in, allowing them to stay after and better their skills,” Michael McCabe said. “Not everybody can make the basketball team or baseball team, but here they can come. Just because they don't make the team doesn't mean they don't have a love for the game.”

Activities include kickball, football, baseball, fitness exercises, chess, checkers, Pictionary and numerous other games. Students rotate between game stations every 15 minutes so everyone gets a chance to play everything.

“We try to mix it up some days,” Robin McCabe said.

Michael McCabe said students can play strategic games and engage in brain training exercises through

McCabe said he was referred to the website while recovering from a concussion sustained in an accident in October 2010.

“Your brain can always become better,” he said.

Thursday's games included KanJam, a competition in which a player throws a disc toward a plastic can, with another player attempting to deflect the disc into the container before it hits the ground. Eighth-grader Bre'ona Johnson dominated that game.

Bre'ona said she heard about intramurals from Michael McCabe and through school announcements.

“They said it's a new activity, and I wanted to try it out,” she said. “I like doing new things. It's been fun. I get to hang with the people that I know. We're all friends. I learned about KanJam and Wiffle ball. I never knew about those games before.”

Bre'ona and seventh-grader Zach Marcic joined intramurals around the same time.

“It keeps me busy after school,” Zach said. “If I don't have anything to do I just come here. It kind of helps sharpen my senses. I figure I wasn't going to be doing much after school until summer, when baseball starts. I just did this as a time-filler. Since it's a smaller group, we each get to talk to each other and circle around these activities. Sometimes you'll be teamed up with different students, so that helps you make friends.”

The program continues through the rest of the school year.

Robin McCabe said she plans to have intramurals at Founders' Hall for years.

“As long as we're allowed we will (have it),” she said.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or