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Game Club Encourages Interaction

Students Learn “Old-Fashioned Fun’


Games were getting heated in the Wyoming Intermediate School classroom. Ace and king battles popped up in the card game, War; jacks were smacked silly in Slapjack and things got a little wild in Crazy Eights.

It was cards day in Game Club at the fifth- and sixth-grade school. Sixth-grader Eric Moras and fifth-grader Thomas Austin took turns laying down their cards, gasping at a war of aces. “I joined because I wanted to relax after the school day,” Thomas said.

Red Rover, Twister, birthday-game relays, Scrabble and Hungry, Hungry Hippos are just a few of the games a dozen students are playing. The weekly hour-long club was started by school counselor Christine Karas.

In the techie world of video games and social media, Karas wanted to introduce students to the beloved time-worn games generations before them enjoyed.

Sixth grader Michael Lynch deals cards during Game Club
Sixth grader Michael Lynch deals cards during Game Club

“Kids don’t interact with each other as much as they used to,” she said. “There’s a lot to be said for working together and having good, old-fashioned fun.”

After passing out a deck of cards for each student to bring home to play with their families, she explained her other motive in running the club. “Kids are having fun without realizing they are learning important skills because, with games, you are in a position that you have to use those skills.”

Karas was referring to the character-building skills she helps instill in students every day when they come to her office struggling with a range of personal issues. Games require students to take turns, learn to be good winners or losers, be patient, face frustration, problem-solve and take risks.

Plus it requires lots of face-to-face interaction for shy students who like to hide in the back of the classroom, she said.

Sixth-grader Illiana Valdez-Ortega, a fan of chess and checkers, said she enjoys Game Club. “I like a whole bunch of games. They are really fun and when you get bored you can always play them again and again.”

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

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