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Tri City Elementary gets new climbing wall

TRI CITY — Excited summer school students at Tri City Elementary lined up Wednesday morning in the cafeteria to scale a new climbing wall.

“We’re going to have this forever, until it falls apart,” said 10-year-old Alisha Davis, who is going into the fifth grade.

The wall cost the school $10,500. Third-grade teacher Natalie Whitmore said the wall will be the backdrop for physical education, academics and leadership-building activities.

The Tri City Parent Teacher Corp, a group of teachers and parents, helped make it possible to get the rock wall. Student fundraising, donations, parent corp fundraising and leftover funds from the previous year helped pay for the wall.

The parent-teacher group purchased the wall through Everlast Climbing Industries, which waived a $15,000 shipping fee because the school agreed to serve as a demonstration site.

“This is something that will be here for many years to come,” said Carrie Woodbeck, last year’s parent-teacher group president. Woodbeck has three children, in first, second and fifth grades, at Tri City.

The wall debuted Wednesday for the students, though it had been installed two weeks prior.

The wall is 40 feet wide and 8 feet tall and can hold up to 10 students. Students are not allowed to step above the red line that divides the wall in half horizontally.

Removable hand holds have a sandpaper texture to give climbers a better grip. Mats, which are not detachable from the base of the structure, provide a cushion for falling students.

“That’s the mat — it’ll save you,” said 7-year-old Joseph Carns, who is going into second grade.

Adults can fold up the mats and secure them to the wall, covering its lower portion. This keeps children from using the wall without adult supervision.

Whitmore, who is also the vice president of the parent-teacher group, discovered the wall at Myrtle Crest Elementary School in Myrtle Point, where Whitmore’s daughter, Lisa, teaches sixth grade.

“They got a wall last year, and I said ‘I want a wall,’” Whitmore said.

Whitmore, who has been teaching for eight years, passionately pursued the project.

The school has been without a physical education teacher for at least eight years, so having another physical activity for the children was one selling point.

“It’s tricky and it builds muscle,” said 8-year-old Tristen Harp, who is going into third grade.

And because it’s indoors, even if the weather is poor, students will have something to do other than the usual jump rope and hula hoop.

The wall came with an activity book. Teachers can use the wall for educational purposes. For example, by assigning numbers to the handholds, teachers can instruct students to make their way across only using handholds with numbers divisible by five.

“There are so many possibilities with it,” Whitmore said. “It’s that learning component with it that was a big selling point.”

• Reporter Megan Campbell can be reached at 541-957-4221 or macampbell@nrtoday.com.

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The News-Review Updated Jul 17, 2014 12:34PM Published Jul 18, 2014 10:21AM Copyright 2014 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.