In an effort to help his male Emerson Academy students feel more of a positive connection to school, Dakota Morgan has developed a video game club at the school.
The club, which was named Da Boyz Club by students, meets every Thursday after school. Morgan, Emerson social studies teacher, brings his Nintendo Switch gaming console, and other students and educators provide other systems, such as an Xbox and Playstation.
Some students also bring computers if they are particularly interested in online gaming. Morgan orders food, and students just hang out, game and chat.
“The students who do show up have been having a blast,” Morgan said.
Tobias Johnson, 17, enjoys spending time with his friends each week during the club meeting.
“It’s a chance to get closer to friends and to stay out of trouble,” he said.
Jacob Gaddis, 17, said Morgan is a good teacher, and the club has been a success thus far.
“I think it’s fun getting to chill and hang out and have good conversations,” he said. “It gives us something to do.”
That is the point of the club, he said, but also it’s a way to improve their outlook on school life.
“Instead of just looking at school negatively and having to be forced to come here, these students are making the choice to spend time here outside of school hours,” he said. “Hopefully putting that positive aspect out there is the first thing that really starts changing their perspective on school.”
He also is using the opportunity to teach some of the students about the job opportunities that exist within the gaming world. Students also engage in discussions about life in general, and their next steps after high school graduation.
Many students at the school are struggling these days, and Morgan wants to be a positive male role model for the young men. Building positive relationships with students is important.
“I hope to gain their trust so they can come and talk with me about anything going on in their lives,” he said. “I want to build that rapport with each of these young men. Growing up today is stressful for anybody, but especially for young men.”
This video game club is specifically for young men, but other Emerson educators are currently thinking of ways to develop a club just for young women at the school.
Morgan is also communicating with Kentucky Wesleyan College’s eSports team coach about setting up an eSports team at Emerson. eSports are video games played in an organized and competitive environment. Many schools in the area have competitive video game teams that are recognized by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, and there are also local students competing in eSports at the collegiate level.
The club, and the potential creation of an eSports team, are part of Morgan and other Emerson educators’ efforts to shed some positive light on the school. Emerson is the Owensboro Public Schools system’s alternative high school.
In the past, alternative high school programs have been viewed as “the bad kids school,” Morgan said, and he wants to work to change that, with the help of his students.
Bobbie Hayse, email@example.com, 270-691-7315