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Plum/Oakmont

Kids going gaga over recess option sparked by Oakmont fourth-grader's petition

Michael DiVittorio
| Friday, Feb. 9, 2018, 4:48 p.m.
Recess at Tenth Street Elementary School has taken on a whole new look recently. Gagaball has taken over and students can't wait to get their chance to play. Fourth grade students Sidda Sykes, Morgan Sink, Aicha Jaafar, and Hadley O'Shane, join their classmates in a game on Thursday, February 8. Lillian DeDomenic  |  For The Tribune Review
Recess at Tenth Street Elementary School has taken on a whole new look recently. Gagaball has taken over and students can't wait to get their chance to play. Fourth grade students Sidda Sykes, Morgan Sink, Aicha Jaafar, and Hadley O'Shane, join their classmates in a game on Thursday, February 8. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune Review

Sidda Sykes was not enjoying what most elementary students would say is their favorite time of the day: recess.

That's because one of her favorite games, gaga ball, was difficult to play in her Oakmont school's playground. The game is a variation of dodge ball that is played inside an octagon with a waist-high fence. Players hit the ball at each other with their hands and are eliminated if it strikes them at the knee or below.

The problem with the playground is it didn't have the fence to keep the ball in the field of play.

"We were playing in a four square square and the ball kept getting out of the thing," said Sidda, 10.

So she took the matter into her own hands and organized a petition drive to request the Tenth Street Elementary Parent-Teachers Organization buy a gaga octagon to use indoors. More than 100 students signed the petition.

"I wanted to help Sidda because I really like gaga ball," fellow fourth-grader Aicha Jaafar said. "It's a really fun game and a safer version of dodgeball."

The message was received by the PTO in November and the group granted the request last month.

"We do many things to keep the kids active and we have limited activities for the winter," said PTO President Lisa DeVita. "We try to fund as much as we possibly can." DeVita can't recall ever being petitioned by students.

"It's the first time it's ever happened to me personally and I've been in the district for 25 years," she said. "I think it was great. I wish more kids would do that. I think they would get a lot more if they stepped up and asked."

The purchase was $5,000 and paid for through fundraising.

"It feels good, like I accomplished something," Sidda said.

Principal David Zolkowski commended Sidda for her initiative to create a physical indoor option for recess.

"She's a leader in her classroom," Zolkowski said. "In the past, indoor recess meant being in their classroom, being on a computer, playing games, drawing, reading. It was limited. As far as any sort of physical activity, it was slim to none."

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367, mdivittorio@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.

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