159,224 minutes: Foster goes gaga for reading

Students at Foster Elementary play a game of gaga ball in their new gaga ball pit.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “reading is fundamental.”

In the case of Foster Elementary School, reading also bought the school a gaga ball pit.

By participating in a Read-A-Thon, Foster students raised enough money to purchase a gaga ball pit for their elementary school playground. The pit was installed in May by the Y-Princess ChickenHawk Tribe, whose members happen to be a number of Foster students.

“This was truly a community effort. The students of Foster Elementary read a total of 159,224 minutes during Read-a-Thon this year. It was their efforts, the support of their friends and families, and the helping hands of the Y-Princesses ChickenHawks, that have enabled us to create something fun—together—for years to come,” said Foster Elementary PTA President Angela Ferguson. Foster students have participated in Read-a-Thon for over a decade.

So, what is gaga ball, you ask? And, why is everyone going gaga for it? It’s a kinder, gentler form of dodge ball, played with a lighter weight foam ball. No more getting smacked in the face or welts on your legs! The fast-paced sport can be played by kids of all ages in an octagonal pit. The goal is to keep moving to avoid getting hit by the ball, at or below the knees. The last one standing is the winner.

“Two other schools have it and it sounded like a really great thing. After researching and realizing it’s kind of low impact we went for it,” said Dr. Jason Ramsey, Foster Principal. Markham and Howe Elementary schools also have gaga ball pits.

At Foster, first- and second-graders play a round. After five minutes, third, fourth and fifth-graders take over. The rotation continues until recess ends.

“It’s been a lot of fun and the kids really, really love it,” Ramsey said.