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‘Ninja Warrior’ training ready to spread across the district

IPS physical education teachers train to become ‘Ninja Warriors.’

Physical education teacher Trent Vickrey is ready to add a few obstacle courses at Ernie Pyle School 90 after going through “American Ninja Warrior” training at Ultimate Ninjas n Noblesville

He recently joined about 20 of his fellow educators from Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) for several hours of grueling workouts — made popular by the NBC television show — as part of a professional development assignment.

“The hardest thing for kids and adults is to get out of their comfort zone,” said Vickrey, now in his seventh year of teaching after graduating from the University of Indianapolis. “But, once you see someone try it, everyone else wants to join in.”

Ultimate Ninjas provides obstacle and agility courses, rock climbing walls, warped walls, swinging ropes, quintuple steps, and obstacles for kids and adults.

Ninja classes are led and designed by personnel who train to conquer many of the same obstacles seen on the show. 

“I’ve had a great time today because it’s fun to share this with your peers,” Vickrey said. “I think we can easily take this back to our classrooms.”

IPS started its partnership with Ultimate Ninjas at the beginning of the school year, allowing 60 students from four schools to participate twice weekly during an after-school and enrichment program, said Mary Siefert, the district’s director of student engagement and extended learning.

Next spring, the program should expand by adding eight additional schools.

“We are hoping to transform physical education by adding programs the students really will find interesting and useful,” Siefert said. “By doing professional development here, our PE teachers can run the obstacle courses, do the drill and learn about ninja training so they can implement it in our schools.

“Physical education classes have dramatically evolved over the years,” she said “It’s just not playing basketball or volleyball. We also teach about wellness and nutrition. There are lots of important topics under the PE umbrella.”

Siefert noted that during the after-school sessions students quickly bond during the various competitions.

“We want to create opportunities for the students to build on their strengths and learn the importance of building relationships. It is nice when students cheer their classmates and give high-fives. It’s incredible to see such personal growth and development outside of a typical school day.”