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    BLOG: NU Fencers Visit Dewey Elementary

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    Evanston, Ill. -- When's the last time you heard of kids learning medieval sword techniques on an average school day in Evanston?

    On Friday, January 28, Dewey Elementary third and fourth graders participated in an interactive fencing session led by the Northwestern Wildcat women's fencing team. Beyond a lively discussion about the lore and literal history of fencing, students learned about each weapon, the foil, sabre and epée, and just how real the sport of fencing is today. 

    Fencing weapons (the plastic variety) and gear were handled and basic techniques were shared and practiced. Students also learned a bit about what it takes to balance the rigors of a top university education with the training and travel of a highly competitive sport.

    "This is really cool," commented fourth graders as they practiced proper lunge techniques.

    Other students were eager to share personal stories of their exposure to the sport, and there was a ripple of enthusiasm about watching fencing in the upcoming Olympic Games.

    "I know I have grown up a lot from this sport and without it I would not be at Northwestern University," says NU fencer Alicia Gurrieri. "The individual aspect [of fencing] forces competitors to always solve problems on their own and try harder each day."

    Dewey teachers strive to regularly impart such lessons to students. Physical education teacher Julie Stevenson explained, "The involvement with NU reinforces what I am telling my students and it gives them a real life role-model that they can aspire to be like in terms of academics, character, and athletics."

    Dewey and Northwestern are planning more fencing sessions as well as a fine arts extension, where students will advance their life drawing skills in renderings of fencing poses.

    Friday's session was the latest in a diverse series of collaborations between the Dewey Wellness Committee and Northwestern University student-athletes from many of the 19 varsity sports. The fencing team first volunteered at Dewey's International Walk to School Day event last October when fencers were bombarded with questions from eager students.

    "Today was a natural extension of the October event," said Stephanie Fine, parent and co-chair of the Dewey Wellness Committee. "Students were eager to learn about fencing, the fencers were very generous with their time, and the school embraced the opportunity. We look forward to future collaborations."

    Courtesy Dewey Elementary

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