8th grade student, Zackery Burrell
By Claire Eubanks
Our school is excited to participate in an Adventure Based Counseling Project; otherwise known as ROPES class. This course has been operating at Pickens County Middle School since 2002 when the course was constructed. A course was built at Pickens County Middle School and Jasper Middle School in 2002 with grant money. The cost of construction for each course was between
$60,000-$90,000. Since starting this class at PCMS, between 850-900 students have successfully completed this class with 100% pass rate.
Students have an opportunity to take ROPES class for a connection (exploratory) class credit in 7th or 8th grade. For this class, students are randomly chosen so students learn to work with peers they may or may not know very well. The class offers excellent physical activity and meets outside daily.
A ROPES course is a series of individual and group physical challenges that require communication or teamwork skills and individual commitment. Outdoor adventure and initiative activities are used to develop new awareness and behaviors that help students become more self-confident, develop leadership skills, gain more self-control, learn better decision making skills, and become more successful. This course includes both low elements, on the ground, and high elements, off the ground, where students use a harness and belay ropes.
Every nine weeks, a “Parent’s Day” is conducted that allows students to invite their parents to see what ROPES is all about. Parents can participate with their child if they desire or just come and take pictures or video.
Students often come into the program saying, “I’m scared of heights” and come out of the program saying “Can I have that class again?” Students grow from the inside while taking the course. They discover things about themselves they may not have known. The ROPES program is very unique to our students.
For safety issues, the course runs best with two adults working the program and assisting with the elements in order for the students to reach the full potential of the curriculum. Industry standards require the course to be inspected annually. The equipment which consists of ropes, harnesses, hardware, and helmets must be replaced every 10 years. Instructors/teachers also must get trained and certified.
We would like to thank Amicalola EMC for recently donating mulch for the course and our own students for help in spreading this mulch.
Some of our students have a few things to tell:
“Once you get on the rope you think you’ll die, but when you are on the ground again you realize it is not that bad.” Tiffany
“I thought it was scary by what I saw but when I did it, it was not that bad.” Haley
“I get such a rush when I am in the air, once I come down I just want to go it again.” Alex
“The high elements are scary but fun at the same time. She (the instructor) hasn’t dropped anyone before, and she is not going to start with me. It looks worse than it is.” Zack
“I think completing the class helps people be more aware of the way they treat each other. I really appreciated everyone cheering me on and congratulating me when I completed the element I was scared of. “ Alex
“Watching my child, who I knew did not like to try new things, complete the experience, and I was able to watch his team work and a smile on his face as he climbed high, reaching for the sky, showed me that this class gave him a confidence I haven’t seen yet. I knew after watching him that all my children to follow should take this class especially in middle school when their esteem is changing and being challenged so much. Thanks for having the class!” Russell.