Ropes and adventure course enhances Staples Physical Education program, strong peer bonding opportunity


Photo by Siena Petrosinelli ’25

Outdoor ropes course in final product for Staples students to use in spring of this year.

The Project Adventure Course has been built both in the fieldhouse and outside of Staples High School. The cost: $63,200 of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to be implemented for the high school’s physical education (P.E.) program. The building process for these courses is nearly complete and certain aspects of them are already being used in the Sophomore Cooperation Activities class. 

Currently, Staples sophomores will first try the on-ground portions of the course in their class. The aerial portions of the fieldhouse course will be put in use during late winter and the aerial portions of the outdoor course will be opened in early spring.

“The first activity that we did involved walking across wood while touching your classmates and everyone needed to be connected to each other,” Isla Goldberg ’25 said. 

The concept of adventure education has been implemented at other schools and has been a subject of discussion in Westport for six years. But, it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that Staples High School was granted money from federal funds to build the adventure course.. 

“This is a program that has been requested multiple times by the P.E. department, but was never approved in the budget process (until now),” Westport Superintendent Thomas Scarice said. 

To overcome a fear of heights, to be supported by your peers, and a great sense of pride to accomplish,

— Principal Stafford W. Thomas Jr.

Training for P.E. Teachers supervising this course will be on Nov. 8. This training prepares them to be well equipped when instructing students important skills and safety on the course, particularly the higher features. Principal Stafford Thomas Jr. sees this adventure course as a way to tackle many skills that students could improve upon.

“To overcome a fear of heights, to be supported by your peers, and a great sense of pride to accomplish,” Thomas said. 

Staples P.E. program consists of many creative activities such as archery or skateboarding. However, a ropes course is truly one of a kind. It has a strong ability to bring different types of students together in the task of trust and communication between peers. 

“I think kids in P.E. fall in a spectrum between athletes and kids uninterested in sports,” gym teacher Jeffrey Doornweerd said. “They all can benefit from learning how to work together, but this (ropes course) takes the athleticism out and focuses on them trying to achieve a common goal.”

In addition to the teachers and administrators, Staples students find the concept of the aerial course intriguing and unique to our high school. 

“It’s a good way to get out and try something new,” Selma Abdelsadek ’26 said, “and not many other schools have this so we are very lucky.”