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March 29. 2013 10:29PM

Dodgeball fight is on in Windham

Matthew and Michael Senibaldi, both 12, have circulated an online petition in hopes of convincing the Windham School Board to reconsider their recent decision to remove dodgeball from the district curriculum. The boys, both students at Windham Middle School, are the sons of School Board member Dennis Senibaldi. (COURTESY)

WINDHAM - When it comes to the School Board's recent ban of dodgeball in their district, two Windham seventh-graders are calling foul.

Upset about the discontinuation of dodgeball and other such games in their gym classes, Matthew and Michael Senibaldi, twin sons of School Board member Dennis Senibaldi, have taken matters into their own hands.

The 12-year-old boys, whose father was the sole board member to object to the ban of all "human contact" games earlier this month, posted an online petition this week in hopes of convincing the board to let the games go on.

"Nerf ball games are fun interactive games that teaches kids the skills of teamwork, strategy and agility," the online petition reads. "Lots of kids have loved Nerf ball games for a long time and we feel it is unfair to eliminate these games based on a few complaints ... we the undersigned kids respectfully are asking the School Board to reconsider their vote."

On Wednesday, Matthew and Michael passed a survey around to their peers during their lunch period at Windham Middle School, gaining several dozen signatures before they said school staff intercepted their petition. The online petition may be viewed online at http://chn.ge/XhFKM4.

As of Friday at 6:30 p.m, the online petition had garnered 201 signatures.

The elder Senibaldi said he supported his sons' decision to petition online.

The four other School Board members didn't immediately respond to an inquiry from the Union Leader on Friday afternoon. Michael Senibaldi said he and his brother Matthew have been enjoying games of dodgeball since the second grade and they both were saddened to hear it had been banned.

"It's just a lot of fun and it's not really about human targeting at all, That's not the point of the game," Michael said. "It's just something we have fun doing with our friends."

After a stilted attempt to collect signatures at school, the boys decided that posting an online petition was probably the best option.

"This way anyone can sign and no one can take that away from us," Michael said.

Both boys said their goal is to get as many signatures as they can, which they'll forward to members of the School Board. On March 21, the school board voted 4:1 in favor of eliminating all "human target" games from the district's curriculum, with proponents of the ban stressing that such games pose safety concerns and can encourage instances of bullying. Senibaldi voiced his objections to the ban, stating that "there are other ways to address bullying."

But Windham teacher Rory O'Connor, spokesman for the district committee tasked with reviewing district physical education policies noted that standards dictated by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education suggested a ban was an appropriate move after some parents reported instances of their children being targeted at dodgeball games.


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