In his time off the football field, Castleton State College sophomore and Spartan defensive lineman Alec Alspach has taken the initiative to create a physical education mentoring program at the Castleton Village School.
Alspach’s “Castleton Spartan Challenge Program,” runs for nine weeks and is administered to about 30 children between grades six and eight. In addition to team building and problem solving, the objective of the program is to promote physical activity in students who tend to be more reserved in the classroom and less likely to participate in after-school activities.
“The goal is to encourage the kids to step out of their comfort zone,” Alspach said.
A combination of strong community involvement and the desire of parents and children fueled Alspach. According to program administrator, Jan Rousse, Alspach’s program is a branch of a larger mentoring program for fourth and fifth graders at the Castleton Elementary School. The success of this program over the years led to “voices of parents and mentees demanding it at the middle school,” Rousse said.
The block schedule of the Village School originally posed challenges that threatened the program. Bu the scheduling challenges sparked the idea for a curriculum-based program that could be built into a free block in the existing schedule, Rousse said.
The hope, Alspach said, was that the program would be as interactive and fun as it was educational. His lesson plan includes a combination of engaging activities he will be leading along with the help of fellow Castleton students, Cody Tancreti, Hannah Corkum and Mackenzie Gage.
Throughout the program, kids will participate in activities from tag to choreographed dances such as the Cupid Shuffle. They also will learn problem-solving techniques and have trivia challenges. According to the Village School councilor, Karla Ramey, the dance lessons did not receive a positive initial response.
“Many of our CVS students groaned at the announcement, but by the end of the session, every one of them was participating. I guess it’s ok to do it if the football players are doing it,” she said.
As a final celebration, the program will end with a day on Castleton’s campus called the Spartan Fitness Challenge that will combine all the aspects of the program.
Alspach said he hopes to expand the program in the future and foster the idea of college and college athletics in the minds of the children.
“We want to offer more areas for students to get interested in like athletic training, sport management, nursing, education and other majors Castleton offers. Our hope is to eventually have an option for every student at the Village school to participate in,” said Alspach.