“I wanted something that included all of my children,” said Cordova Elementary School Principal Dianne Williams.
Williams said she has long been interested in the Archery in the Schools program that was introduced in Alabama in 2003.
Several other local elementary schools, including Curry, Oakman and Sumiton, now have archery teams.
CES held its first archery tryouts for fourth grade students this year and competed in its first regional competition at Good Hope High School in February.
Although students did not place high enough to advance to the state championship, winning is not how Williams or physical education teacher Diana Bickelhaupt are gauging the program’s success.
Bickelhaupt said she has been impressed with how quickly her students have picked up the skill. Few had ever held a bow before the first practice.
Archery also requires students to be on their best behavior.
The normally noisy gym goes silent during target practice so archers can concentrate and hear the whistle commands that tell them when it is safe to shoot.
“They have to be very disciplined and can’t be goofing around because it is an arrow. I stress safety with them,” Bickelhaupt said.
Williams said her goal for the archery program has been achieved by the growth she has seen in one particular little girl who has never before enjoyed going to school.
Archery helped changed the student’s attitude and built up her self-esteem.
“It gives all of them an opportunity to be successful at something,” Williams said.
CES also offered a new art and music program after school this semester.
Second and fourth graders spend several weeks each year learning pottery and music courtesy of the Walker County Arts Alliance.
However, the school does not have any way to supplement those programs during the semester those classes aren’t in session, or when students who show an interest in them move on to the next grade level.
“I wanted to start the fine arts program to develop those skills of children that their talent isn’t sports related. We have so many whose interests are music and drawing,” Williams said.
Debra Jacks teaches art and CES teacher Robert Gurganus is in charge of music.
Gurganus, a CES alumnus, is teaching folk songs like “Clementine” and “This Land is Your Land” in the same room in which he learned them himself.
“We’re trying to not let this generation forget our music history,” he said.
He added that learning about beats and rhythmic patterns improve students’ proficiency in math and helps them prepare for the standardized Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test.