In an effort to help her male students at Emerson Academy feel closer to school, Dakota Morgan started a video game club at school.
The club, which was named Da Boyz Club by the students, meets every Thursday after school. Morgan, a social studies professor at Emerson, brings his Nintendo Switch game console, and other students and educators provide other systems, like an Xbox and Playstation.
Some students also bring computers if they are particularly interested in online games. Morgan orders food and the students just hang out, play and chat.
“The students showing up had a great time,” Morgan said.
Tobias Johnson, 17, enjoys hanging out with his friends every week during the club meeting.
“It’s a chance to get closer to friends and stay out of trouble,” he said.
Jacob Gaddis, 17, said Morgan is a good teacher and the club have been successful so far.
“I think it’s fun to relax and hang out and have good conversations,” he said. “It gives us something to do.”
It’s the purpose of the club, he says, but it’s also a way to improve their outlook on school life.
“Instead of just looking at school negatively and being 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 to change their perspective on school.”
He also takes the opportunity to teach some students about the job opportunities that exist in the world of video games. 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 young men. Building positive relationships with students is important.
“I hope to gain their trust so they can come and talk to me about everything that’s going on in their life,” he said. “I want to build this rapport with each of these young men. Growing up today is stressful for everyone, but especially for young men.
This video game club is specifically for young men, but other educators at Emerson are currently considering ways to develop a club just for young women at the school.
Morgan is also communicating with the coach of the Kentucky Wesleyan College eSports team about creating an eSports team at Emerson. eSports are video games played in an organized and competitive environment. Many area schools have competitive video game teams that are recognized by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, and there are also local students who participate in e-sports at the college level.
The club and the potential creation of an eSports team are part of efforts by Morgan and other Emerson educators to shine a positive light on the school. Emerson is the alternate high school in the Owensboro public school system.
In the past, alternative high school programs were considered “the school for bad kids,” Morgan said, and he wants to work to change that, with the help of his students.
Bobbie Hayse, firstname.lastname@example.org, 270-691-7315