Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy Rich Folden gave me a tip that the department and the Gig Harbor Sportsman's Club would join Romny Beck, who teaches students with special needs at South Kitsap High School, in engaging her students in archery skills. They all came together last Thursday.
The sun bathed the day. Temperatures were June-like. Conviviality governed the event, a very exciting one for the students, their parents and the rest of us.
“Having the opportunity to provide an archery experience for these 13 wonderful students was one of the highlights of 2015 for us at the Gig Harbor Sportsman’s Club," said Thom Halligan, GHSC's onsite caretaker and archery venue chairman. "Most of those kids would never have a chance to play Robin Hood or Maid Merriam. An encore performance is planned for May."
"I couldn't help but be impressed by the determination displayed by the students and their complete and utter joy at succeeding in the athletic challenge of archery," Sergeant Brian Ward said.
The event’s main mission is for students to get opportunities to participate in different community events they may not otherwise be able to, Beck said.
“We work on social and adaptive skills the kids will need in the real world," he said.
Some quotes the kids had in advance of the day: “I’m very bad at archery but I appreciate the people who will help me,” said John Willett.
Logan Stencil said, “I’m looking forward to being outside on the nice sun-shining course.”
“I am looking forward to going out and learning how to shoot a bow and arrow,” said Matt Decker. John Curtis was “happy to be with friends shooting some arrows," and liked “going somewhere new.”
Kristin Johnson was “excited for the archery field trip because I’ve always wanted to know how to shoot a bow and arrow.”
Christopher Morris looked "forward to fun times with friends.”
“My main mission/goal is to give students opportunities to try/explore new things: archery, a Broadway musical, going out with peers, trying new foods, movies, Zoo Lights, dinner, Senior Prom, Tolo or Homecoming, instead of staying home and to step out of their comfort zones — which is VERY hard for some folks," Beck said.
Said student Josh Orange, “I am excited to be out of school and get to learn how to shoot a bow and arrow.”
Morgan Drouin agreed: “I'm excited to learn more about shooting a bow and arrow, I want to learn how to aim the arrow right and I like being with friends.”
For Deputy Dan Wulick, “It was an absolute joy and privilege to spend the afternoon with these kids. The joy on their faces was evident, and their sense of accomplishment was infectious. I can only hope they enjoyed themselves as much as I did.”
“I am looking forward to shooting the arrow at the farthest target,” declared student Cameron Morton. Ben Kingston was “excited about skipping school and having fun firing arrows.” And Tate Dorough looked forward to “sitting by the nice fire with my friends and shooting arrows at the targets.”
Ray Readwin, Peninsula High School resource officer said, "It’s great seeing the community working together with the schools to improve the educational experience. Getting to witness the sense of accomplishment when a student would pop one of the balloons was special."
"The progress made and the increase in confidence from the beginning of the class to the end was remarkable," noted Folden. "I never would have thought that it would be so gratifying seeing someone else pop a balloon! A fantastic group of kids; it was a real privilege to have been present."
Amen to that, Rich. Thanks for the tip! The main comment every student made was that the “field trip was awesome!”