Aberdeen public schools invest in Esports, new greenhouse equipment

Published: May. 4, 2023 at 6:34 PM CDT
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - While the SDHSAA has not yet sanctioned eSports, Aberdeen is investing into the activity in hopes that it soon will be.

A $15,000 grant from the Aberdeen Public Schools Foundation was matched by the district, and the funds were used to purchase equipment for eSports participants and six hydroponic growing towers for Aberdeen Central’s new greenhouse, which is expected to be completed this month.

”They’re both really exciting. They’re both brand new. My board is very excited to be able to help with something to start something. That’s really what the foundation likes to do is do that ground-level funding to help start projects and programs that are going to exist in the district for a long time,” said Aberdeen Public Schools Foundation Executive Director Gretchen Sharp.

This past year, an eSports club was formed at Aberdeen Central in hopes the sport will soon be sanctioned as a competitive activity.

”This year, we did a pilot for eSports, and we had about 20 students participate in that. We really were able to include students who may not have taken other activities. So, it was good to reach a different group of students this year,” said Aberdeen Assistant Superintendent Camille Kaul.

The eSports equipment will help incorporate physical activity into the mental sport.

“The funding is going toward purchasing some under-desk elliptical machines and stationary bikes and gaming chairs, so ergonomically correct, to help the eSports team. They’re not just going to be sitting there, there’s some physical activity that goes along with it, a whole body experience for those gamers in the eSports category,” said Sharp.

The eSports lab will be in the recently completed ATEC Academy addition at Aberdeen Central High School. Sharp said the Aberdeen School District wants to give students as many opportunities as possible to explore their interests and possible career paths.

“As a district, we think it’s really important to have students have a wide variety of experiences. We want to open their opportunities up to different careers for the future. By adding to our A-TEC facility, we’re able to do that,” said Sharp.

Sharp said the district anticipates that the South Dakota High School Activities Association could sanction eSports in time for the 2023-2024 school year.