The club started a couple years ago when Mike Carnahan, the STC Band Director, began talking to a few of his students in his homeroom about a similar club a friend of his sponsored at Belle Plaine. It led to discussion and an eventual “field trip” to Belle Plainefor one of their activity nights to soak it in and see how it is run. “From there, we met with Mr. Tekippe about trying it at STC and we were able to host a two of our own “Gamer’sNights” at STC in the spring of 2009.” explained Carnahan. “They were both very successful and a lot of fun, so we were given the go ahead to bring our idea in front of the Superintendent and School Board.”
A lot of research went into it before being presented to the board. “I contacted numerous schools around the country and even Canada who had clubs.” said Carnahan, “that, in itself, was a fun activity to hear about all the different ways to run a club of this type.” Two students who expressed a lot of interest in seeing the club get off the ground, Cody Gardner and Kyle Gitautis, did some research of their own. There was a survey handed out to all STC homerooms to gauge interest of the student body. When all the research was pulled together, the three founders were invited to present it in front of the school board.
“I really wasn’t fazed by presenting to them and I was kind of surprised that it went so well and that they were so supportive of the club.”, said Gardner, a senior at STC.
“I was really proud of how the students did in front of the board.”,said Carnahan, “They didn’t seem nervous at all, and they handled themselves very well.” The board had a few questions along with some concerns. “There have always been concerns since video games were introduced. What we hoped to do was debunk a few myths and assure the school district that what we were going to do was going to be a very positive thing for students at STC.”, added Carnahan.
As it turns out, the results have been very favorable. “I can easily say that the club so far has exceeded even my own hopes and goals.”, said Carnahan, “We have had many success stories with individuals in our club and seeing the socializing, teamwork, and sportsmanship that goes on during our “Gamer’s Nights” is amazing.”
In order to participate in club activities, all members must be in good academic standing. This means they must have passed all of their classes from the previous term. Additionally, good conduct and sportsmanship are encouraged while playing games. “There have been a couple ‘teachable moments’ at some of our nights, “ said Carnahan, “and students have been very receptive to comments and immediately change their behavior. In fact, often it hasn’t been myselfor another staff person correcting poor behavior, but it has been club members themselves. I think that is one of the examples of my goals being exceeded. We are also seeing many students who are not actively involved in anything else at STC, interacting with other members who are involved in many sports and activities. The overall school climate seems to be even a little more positive this year, and I would like to think that Game Squad has played even a small part in that.”
Thus far, Game Squad does not own any equipment other than a few donated power strips, extension cords and adapters. The club relies on its members to provide the gaming systems, controllers, and everything else that goes along with it. LCD projectors are borrowed from other staff members within the school and community. “The projectors are the real draw, I think.”,said Carnahan. “It’s fun for students to play their games on giant screens instead of their televisions at home.” The club hopes to one day own their own equipment. “There are many reasons to have the club own its own items, mostly to avoid damaging or breaking someone’s personal property.”,explained Carnahan. “So we are doing fundraisers and plan to apply for some grants to see this come true. We have put together an inventory wish list and have included everything we could think of: systems and controllers, of course, but also our own projectors, screens, batteries, cables, we even intend to set aside a repair/replacement fund.”
Fundraisers so far have included a couple tournaments at Gamer’s Nights where members who wish to take part pay a small entry fee to play with all profits going to the Game Squad equipment account. Another recent fundraiser was a Middle School Gamer’sNight where middle school students paid an admission fee to attend an evening of gaming at the middle school gym. “It was pretty impressive. We had set up twelve gaming systems along with twelve projectors throughout the gym and had plenty of games and activities to keep the students who showed up entertained.”,said Carnahan. “Not knowing what to expect because it had never been done before, we were very happy with the results.”
So what does the future hold for Game Squad? “That is a really interesting thought,” said Carnahan, “because with today’s technology, we can dream about so much. One thing we have tossed around is gaining access to the school’s network in order to challenge other clubs around the country or world. Schools could literally set up “conferences” and not be bound by geographical limits, and play against each other in friendly competition on popular games.”
The club members regularly invite and welcome interested staff members and other adults in the community to stop by during one of their Gamer’sNights. “I think the members really enjoy seeing people’s reactions to what is going on,” said Carnahan, “and they absolutely love it when visitors take the time to play a quick game with them, even if they have to teach someone how to play a game or even hold a controller. That is another great benefit for our members, learning how to teach someone a new activity.”
If you have an interest in seeing the Game Squad in action, or if you have comments, questions, or concerns, you are encouraged to contact Mike Carnahan at STCHS. “We are also actively accepting donations of equipment or monetary aid to help us reach our goal of being self-sufficient.”, added Carnahan.
Playing Guitar Hero in the STC High School band room- (l-r) Katelyn Kucera, Danielle Taylor, Wes Forcht, Hailey Gitautis, Matt Hofer and Amanda McClellan.