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Lake Dolloff Elementary scores rock wall with fundraisers and grants

Lake Dolloff Elementary students have to hang onto the rock wall while solving math problems written on the whiteboards spaced along the wall. - Kyra Low/The Mirror
Lake Dolloff Elementary students have to hang onto the rock wall while solving math problems written on the whiteboards spaced along the wall.
— image credit: Kyra Low/The Mirror

Students at Lake Dolloff Elementary School have a fun new way to get fit, thanks to fundraising and grants.

In December, a new rock climbing wall that spans the length of the gym wall was installed at the school.

The idea for the wall first came about in 2007, when P.E. teacher Anthony Corrado was in his second year teaching.

BuDu Racing, a company owned by the parents of one of his students, offered time, stopwatches and trophies for a fun run — with the idea that the school could raise some money. After the principal asked Corrado what he wanted for his gym, Corrado decided on a rock wall, and figured it would take several years to raise the money. The PTA got involved and the fun run was a go.

That first "Dolphin Dash" raised about $1,000 and the second brought in $800.

"At $9,500, I thought (the rock wall) was going to take us a while," Corrado said.

Then PTA parent Cicely Lundberg took a chance and applied for a grant from Lowe's — and got it. The home improvement company gave the school a check for $7,500.

"It helped us get it a lot faster," Corrado said.

The wall has already become a hit in his P.E. class, which just finished a monthlong session on rock climbing.

"They love it," Corrado said. "I've been really impressed with the kids, they are absolutely amazing. It's all about them and their abilities."

"It's awesome," fifth-grader Brandon Lee Bramblett said. "I like it when you have to like go all the way over like to the end."

The wall is 40 feet by 8 feet and has 300 holds, which can be taken down and re-arranged. There are also three different routes available for the kids to try, with kids using only one color of rock per route.

"There are different levels for everyone," fifth-grader Erin Crooks said.

The hardest is the red route.

"A few of the girls can climb the red," Corrado said.

There are also built-in rock features that are the most advanced and generally meant for rock climbing shoes, not the tennis shoes the kids wear.

"I like how hard it is," fifth-grader DeAndrea Askew said. "Now I do just the red. I've tried the rock features."

The wall has three-inch pads underneath it, which are thicker than the recommended two-inch pads, but safer for the kids. The pads can also be folded up over the wall when it is not in use and is locked with a key.

The school is still doing its annual Dolphin Dash on June 4. And they even got some celebrities to come this year: Former "Biggest Loser" contestants Matt and Suzy Hoover, who live in Des Moines.

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Benefits of a rock wall, according to physical education teacher Anthony Corrado:

• Develops muscular endurance

• Develops hand-eye coordination

• Develops upper and lower body strength

• Can be used for cross curricular teaching (math problems and scrambled spelling)

• Builds teamwork

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