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Bronxville School Students Get Amped Up Over New Gaga Pit

The inaugural game of Gaga. Photo Credit: Contibuted
Vanessa Janec and the sixth-grade grant writers cut the ribbon to celebrate the opening of the Gaga Pit. Photo Credit: Contibuted
The Bronxville School’s new Gaga Pit — the quiet before the storm. Photo Credit: Contibuted
Fifth-grade students gather at the Gaga Pit during recess. Photo Credit: Contibuted
Fifth-grade recess students in action in the Gaga Pit. Photo Credit: Contibuted

BRONXVILLE, N.Y. -- The children at the Bronxville School are going “gaga” over the newest outdoor activity, the Gaga Pit, which was recently installed on the school field near the main bleachers.

Last spring, a group of fifth-grade students, with help from fifth-grade teacher Vanessa Janec and parents Philip Overby, Laura Pettee and Melinda Dempsey, were awarded a grant by the Bronxville School Foundation to purchase materials for and install the Gaga Pit. Their objective was to promote active play during recess and provide more choices at recess, especially for fourth- and fifth-graders, though students of all ages are likely to enjoy the game.

Dubbed “the kinder, gentler dodgeball,” Gaga is a fast-paced, high-energy game played in an octagonal pit. Believed to have originated in Israel (Gaga means “touch touch” in Hebrew), Gaga Pits are now a mainstream activity in schools and camps across the United States.

From the school administration’s standpoint, Gaga has many positive attributes:

  • Minimal equipment is needed — a game requires only one soft ball.
  • Up to 25 players can play at one time.
  • Simple rules — a player basically tries to avoid being hit by the ball below the knees.
  • No experience is required and no particular athletic ability is required.
  • A game can be played in a few minutes, so many rounds are possible during recess or after school.

“This is what is so special about Bronxville," said Adrienne Laitman, Bronxville Elementary School assistant principal. "The students worked together to come up with an idea that enhances the recess experience for many children. And, thanks to the Bronxville School Foundation’s generous grant, they were able to see this idea through to fruition.”

After the school’s building maintenance crew finished the installation, the Gaga Pit officially opened May 20 during a ceremony attended by the current sixth-graders who wrote the grant last year and members of the school administration.

Student Hannah Dempsey said, “The Gaga Pit is already so popular. Even though we hadn’t played the game before, it was so easy to learn and really fun to play.”

For more information and to make donations, contact Peggy Williams, executive director, at 914-395-0515 or visit .

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