Centre bowling class a lifetime-learning experiment

The sign on the door of Pla Bowl in Herington said “Closed,” but anyone could hear the gleeful sound of a room full of Centre Elementary sixth graders inside on Friday afternoon.

Stan Wiles, physical education teacher at Centre Elementary School has been teaching his students “lifetime sports,” and bowling is on that list.

Wiles’ students have been learning about bowling since first grade and they recently got their chance to put into practice all they’ve learned.

“By the time the kids reach sixth grade they’ve learned how to bowl, how to keep score and proper bowling etiquette,” Wiles said. “Then we bring them here to the bowling alley for four afternoons where Mr. Harris gives them a first-rate education in how a bowling alley works.”

Of course, students get to play the game and they’re enthusiastic about it.

“I like to bowl because it’s an all-year-round sport,” said sixth-grader Lance Diepenbrock.

“It’s a fun family thing,” added Jessica Deines.

Chelsey Tajchman was enthralled by the variety of balls, including some that are scented grape, orange, evergreen and cinnamon.

“The only reason I can think of for bowling balls to have a fragrance,” said Brittany Owens with a mischievous grin, “is to offset the smell of your shoes.”

It’s obvious that Stan Harris, owner of Pla Bowl, enjoys the company of these young bowling enthusiasts.

“I started bowling when I was their age,” he said. “I love my work. My wife says we should have bought the bowling alley 10 years sooner. Why? Because it offers a good income and freedom in our lifestyle.”

Centre students would say there is no excuse for not trying to learn to bowl. Ryan Olsen, from Lincolnville, has been blind since birth but he was bowling alongside his classmates. Ryan was bowling with the assistance of his para-educator, Holly Hemmer.

“A good score is 110,” Harris said. “Ryan bowled a score of 145, which is excellent.”

The bowling alley has a special apparatus to hold the ball and guide it into the lane to assist those with physical challenges.

“I like to teach people how to bowl because they can do it once they’re past their football and basketball stage in life,” Wiles said.

He has been teaching for 23 years-twenty of those at Centre Elementary School.

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