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Chisholm Trail PE classes give students a taste of 'nontraditional' activities with fishing

“I've gotten numerous emails from parents who said that their kids appreciated the fishing unit."

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This fall, middle schoolers at Chisholm Trail started the first fishing unit offered at the school, backed by a grant from Bass Pro. 

This year, students at Chisholm Trail Middle are trying their hand at fishing during some fall and spring physical education classes. It’s all part of the program’s emphasis on providing kids with a litany of activities they can enjoy throughout their lifetime, PE teacher Adam Kinzer said. 

It might not be part of the PE curriculum in the traditional sense, he said, but it does help these middle schoolers build skills that will be useful throughout the rest of their life, like hand-eye coordination and patience. 

“That's how we approached this unit of doing a lifelong activity that the kids could do, even when they're 80 years old,” Kinzer said. “The kids can then go 'You know what, I don't really like running around the track or I really don't like football or soccer but I did like fishing or doing archery, I enjoyed those things,’ and then hopefully they proceed in that avenue.” 

In general, Kinzer said the response to the unit has been positive.

“I've gotten numerous emails from parents who said that their kids appreciated the fishing unit,” he said. “In turn, we had a lot of parents who wanted to come and assist with our units, so we actually had some parents help out there in the pond, which was really nice.” 

Archery, which is also not a typical activity covered in the regular middle school PE repertoire, but Kinzer said that’s been something Chisholm Trail has been doing for years. Fishing, he said, is an extension of that. 

SETTING UP THE FISHING UNIT

Kinzer said some of the PE teachers had talked about setting up a fishing unit. After all, there’s a pond just across the street from the school. However, that pond sits on private property and the school didn’t have all the necessary equipment to get the unit rolling. 

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“Ultimately, it comes down to them, if they say no, there's no fishing units, and they were more than willing to let us do that,” Kinzer said. 

Thanks to the willingness of the Davis family, who owns the property with the pond, and a $1,500 grant from Bass Pro, Kinzer said it’s become a reality. That money was used to purchase 36 fishing poles and a bunch of extra supplies, like bobbers, lines and hooks to replace broken parts down the line. 

“We were able to get all the supplies that we needed to start this unit,” he said. “We basically spent every penny we could, so we have plenty of gear for every single kid.” 

The unit falls twice a year, once in the first quarter and once in the final quarter of the year, giving every seventh and eighth-grade class — which switches out at the semester mark — a chance to fish. All of the PE sections get a chance to do the unit on a rotating basis. 

“Everybody gets an opportunity to do it,” Kinzer said. 

The beginning of the unit emphasizes safety and basics. 

“It's more of a classroom setting, where they're reading and learning about the different parts of the pole, how to tie a hook, how to properly set your line,” Kinzer said, “all those types of things so that when they go out to the pond, they have that background knowledge.” 

Initially, the plan was to start during 2020, but the pandemic made that difficult. This school year is the first in which all of the middle school PE classes at Chisholm Trail get to fish. Kinzer said he’s also been talking to PE teachers at other schools in the district to build fishing units of their own, possibly lending the poles. 

“I think that might just be an opportunity to maybe open up some windows for other people to kind of think outside the box,” he said. “It's not just the traditional sports that … we always do, but maybe this is something that we can find some avenues for kids to get outside and be active and not sitting on their devices all the time.” 

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