Gorgeous weather and a 25-foot-tall rock wall greeted Bradford Area High School students who wanted to test their climbing skills while building their self confidence Monday.
The wall, set up in the high school parking lot off Interstate Parkway by the Pennsylvania National Guard, is open to students from gymnastic classes, as well as youngsters from the community between the ages of 14 and 18.
Students under 18, however, need a signed permission slip from a parent or guardian, said Staff Sgt. Steven Kloss. He said the permission slip forms are available in the main office at the high school.
“This is to build confidence,” Kloss said of the wall. “This is the first time we’ve set this up (at Bradford high) ever.”
While the wall is open to students in gymnastic classes at the school, Kloss said other kids from the community are welcome to join in on the fun.
“Anyone walking by (the school) can do this,” Kloss added.
He and fellow soldier, Sgt. First Class James Borowsky said the National Guard has owned the rock wall approximately five years. In addition to schools, the wall, which is hauled on a trailer, has been set up at various venues in the area including fairs.
Kloss noted the wall will also be transported and set up at the Smethport High School Wednesday.
“It’s very, very sturdy and very safe,” Kloss said of the structure. He said the only injuries sustained by some participants in the past have been scrapes and bruises.
National Guard Mobile Event Team members on-hand to help students climb the wall Monday were Pfc. Shyenne Winter and Specialist Carter Sechrist.
“We do this a lot,” Winter said. “We do it rain or shine, as long as it’s not super windy.”
Two Bradford high students who climbed the wall were Lauryn Kahle and Sarah Niegowski.
“It was scary, I wanted to come back down,” Niegowski admitted.
Her friend, Kahle, had a different take on the activity.
“It was fun and getting to the top is worth it, because coming down was fun,” Kahle said, noting she wanted to repeat the adventure again today.