Hopi rock climbing wall

Major Mago (left) and Johnny McCormack try out the new rock climbing wall at Hopi.

The Hopi Hawks are reaching new heights with an addition to their school gym in the form of a rock climbing wall.

P.E. teacher Tim Marriott said that the climbing wall takes the school’s gym to the next level, giving students the opportunity to challenge themselves while having fun.

 “Since we started teaching at Hopi five years ago, it has been a goal and a dream of the P.E. team to have a rock climbing wall for our program,” Marriott said. “We had a smaller one at our previous school, Anasazi Elementary, and we have always hoped for one at Hopi. We’re so happy and fortunate to have a huge one here.”

Marriott and his fellow P.E. teachers Karen Derkach and Jennifer Lee are looking forward to years of climbing with Hopi students. In addition to the wall, the P.E. team was also able to purchase new volleyball poles and nets to give the gym a makeover. 

The wall was purchased from Everlast Climbing and installed in the Hopi gym in just one day. When it was ready to go, Marriott said the students were elated to see the new addition.

“The students are super excited about getting their turn to climb,” Marriott said. “They know how lucky they are to have a 40-foot climbing wall inside their gym. They were also completely surprised because we kept this a secret.”

The P.E. team already has big plans for the new year. During their juggling unit, students will switch between juggling practice and climbing sessions. They plan to incorporate rock climbing into field day activities and potentially even as part of a Ninja Warrior obstacle course.

 “Physically, it is one of the best total body workouts available, from your fingers and forearms to your core and abdominals as you lift your legs into position,” Marriott said. “The motions of climbing work every part of your body and strengthen your muscles.”

The climbing wall presents a way to keep students active and moving while also giving them the chance to push themselves and try something new. 

“From a mental standpoint, each climbing route is like a puzzle, which requires patience and planning,” Marriott said. “It forces the climber to make decisions and utilize strategies of how to get from one hold to another and from one point to another. This decision making and strategizing builds problem solving and planning skills.”

Marriott is also excited that the students can share their enthusiasm about climbing with one another, as this activity builds character and leadership skills. 

“Students share their knowledge of how to climb and learn to trust each other and their spotters,” Marriott said. “They encourage each other as they celebrate new climbing achievements.”

While the P.E. team hopes to add new elements for extra climbing challenges in the future, for now the Hopi community is just embracing this chance to climb.<s