The Rise (and Fall?) of ASW Ping Pong

by Amy Oh

A new sensation has taken over ASW: ping pong. Students spend time playing with their friends during free periods, break, lunch, and after school. They lay out multiple ping pong tables in the new building hallway.

It seemed likely that the activity would be momentarily paused due to IB finals, but students kept playing it in the HS commons area.

Some teachers viewed it as a positive trend. Mr. Raggio, PE teacher, said “It keeps kids active and has some skill development. It also brought community together – boys and girls, especially juniors.” He added that “the school can do a better job with providing activities like that.”

Mr. James, history teacher, had a similar opinion. Mr. James has a ping pong table in his room and has been providing it for students for several years. He said that once the seniors were released, his table has been borrowed almost every day. He did not expect such a sudden rise in ping pong interest and said, “It helped that there was a club that started that played every day at lunch”.

“I have colleagues who remember playing a lot of ping pong in high school,” Mr. James continued. “I feel the digital age destroyed the kind of fun students used to have to have. It’s much better than being on a computer watching YouTube videos.”

However, there were some concerns about the rise of ASW ping pong. Mr. Armstrong, the band director, said “students could make better use of their time.”

Mr. Sheehan, HS principal, said, “I worry about the noise created by so many players cheering each other on or reacting enthusiastically to their friends playing so well. I’ve been in classrooms upstairs and when classes are going on and the door is closed, it sounds like the game is going on right outside the room. The noise really travels. I will have to talk to club members to reduce noise. We’ll have to reduce the number of tables or the amount of players present at one time.”

Mr. Sheehan also mentioned playing ping pong in the HS commons. “We need to think about how the space is going to be used. It’s not a good place to study if all the games are going on.”

The ping pong trend is comparable to the chess phenomenon earlier in the year. Many students, especially those in 11th grade, started playing chess. They played it not only during chess club meetings at lunch but also through online platforms. In March, a tournament was held where people from other Polish schools came to compete against each other.

Sabina S. (11), leader of the chess club, said “This year when I began to run it, the club shrank due to the seniors leaving. However, I encouraged many of my friends to come along and try it out. They seemed to really enjoy it as they kept coming to play and were interested in the tournament I was planning on organizing. Some of my friends joined that didn’t even know how to play chess, but when they started they were determined to get better. I love how chess has shifted from something that was seen as nerdy to something people really enjoy doing.”

Stas D. (11), a member of the chess club, described 4 stages of the chess era. “Stage 1 was when Sabina got many students interested and they were excited to play against each other. Then we had the chess tournament. Stage 2 – everyone realized they had to play chess for 10 hours a day and they were destroyed by people who came to the tournament because they were semi-professionals. Stage 3 – there was the next chess club meeting and no one came.”

Although the interest in chess had seemed to die out, Stas argued that there is stage 4, because there are people still interested in chess. “Chess is life,” he added.

It is yet unclear whether the ping pong era will follow the same stages.

Meanwhile, Erik F. (11), leader of the ping pong club said, “We are thinking of hosting a tournament and we’re extremely pleased with the amount of people taking part in the club.”

“We hope to keep providing the fun and excitement that table tennis brings to the people of ASW,” he said.

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