Arnold Principal Joel Morgan has taken on some big challenges to encourage kids to read in the two previous school years, camping overnight on the roof of the school and plunging into the cold Arnold lake in costume. In 2018, he took on the biggest challenge of all: “boot camp.”
“This year we called it the ‘Fort Morgan Boot Camp Challenge,’ said Debbie Moninger, who is in charge of the accelerated reading program at APS. “Students needed to reach 2,500 points in the first quarter to send Mr. Morgan to bootcamp. It took the entire nine weeks because they were still 260 points short with four days left in the challenge. In the final four days, students earned 635 points for a grand total of 2,875 points.”
Mr. Morgan started his boot camp early last Thursday morning in the school gym by getting a crewcut and shave. Wearing sweat pants and clothes he purchased through sites that benefit veterans’ causes, he traveled to each classroom and did a physical challenge based on the average AR points for that room.
The kids voted on what they wanted him to do – jumping jacks, push-ups or sit-ups. The highschoolers chose burpees – a very challenging full body exercise. On that one, he could only do half as many as he was supposed to, said Mrs. Moninger.
Whatever room Mr. Morgan wasn’t in, six Arnold veterans stepped in to read a chosen book to the kids and talk about their military service. The vets were Mike Harvey, John Phillips, Dave Crow, Gene Tullis, Kent DeLosh and Ed Tullis.
While junior high and high school students watched a military movie, elementary students had the chance to test themselves in boot camp challenges. The veterans were still involved, teaching the kids how to march and timing runs.
All students in Grades K-12 had the chance to test their physical fitness in the National Guard Boot Camp Inflatable Obstacle Course. SSG Edward Alvizar, a National Guard recruiter from North Platte, brought the course to the school and briefly spoke to the students.
“He congratulated the kids on meeting their goal, and gave a speech. He said that everyone knows that physical fitness is important to enter the military, but academics and mental fortitude are equally important to keep people safe,” said Mrs. Moninger.
And then the big moment came when SSG Alvizar was scheduled to give Mr. Morgan a physical training challenge. Looking Mr. Morgan over, Alvizar decided to start with the boot camp challenge.
“Mr. Morgan went through the course the first time to get his time and really hammed it up,” said Mrs. Moninger. “He challenged (senior football player) Cooper Taylor to see if he could beat him. Even though he tried tackling the senior, Cooper still handily won that challenge.”
Just to show that he wasn’t cut out for the military, Mr. Morgan then ate what is considered one of the “least gross” MREs for lunch. Mr. Morgan said the biscuits and gravy would have probably tasted a lot better if he was out in the field like a real soldier.
“Least gross is probably an understatement,” he said. On the other hand, he could see soldiers bartering for the chocolate banana muffin top that was included in the MRE.
By the end of the morning, Mrs. Moninger said everyone agreed that it would be best to leave Mr. Morgan out of the military and in the position he’s at – academics.
“The kids learned a lot through the whole process, and it was part of the reason we decided on a boot camp,” she said. “A little bit before Veterans Day, we want the kids to know how the vets protect our country and realize on a deeper level what Vets Day is. It was the inspiration. Not only to motivate reading, but allow them to learn in a fun way the valor and the service veterans provide to our country.”
Mrs. Moninger said the 2018 Fort Morgan Boot Camp Challenge raised the bar. “We’re going to have to come up with something really good for next year,” she said.
Article by: Janet Larreau For more local news Subscribe to The Arnold Sentinel.