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Army sergeants teach team-building at Woodstock North

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 12:22 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 10:58 p.m. CDT
(Lathan Goumas - lgoumas@shawmedia.com)
Dakota Hamand, 14, of Tonya Chambers' freshman English class, confers with his teammates about which piece of paper to step to next while participating in a team building exercise Wednesday during class at Woodstock North High School. The students had to work as a team to navigate their way through the filed of paper following an unknown path they discovered as they progressed. Chambers had her class participate in team building exercises led by two U.S. Army sergeants from Crystal Lake to help illustrate some of the themes of the novel Down River by Will Hobbs, which the class is reading.

WOODSTOCK – Woodstock North High School students got a lesson in leadership and team building Wednesday from a couple of men who know a thing or two about leading a team.

Two Army sergeants based in Crystal Lake orchestrated several team-building exercises for Tonya Chambers’ freshman English class. The class is reading Will Hobbs’ novel “Downriver,” which includes themes such as working together for a common goal and how to take initiative and lead a group.

Chambers said having the Army sergeants at the school was an invaluable experience for the students.

“I invited the Army to come here today to teach us how to work effectively as a team,” Chambers said. “It gets us out of the classroom and to apply some of these problems we’ve identified in the book.”

Chambers said her students have a great respect for the military, and the Army sergeants offered a unique perspective on the lessons her class is covering.

“[The students] were so enthusiastic about it,” she said. “And a lot of these boys are gung-ho right now and set on joining the military. It’s a good way to build relationships and get them talking to people who have already done it.”

One such student, freshman Brandon Schaefer, said he enjoyed working with the Army sergeants and hopes to enlist one day.

“It’s really cool, especially because I want to have a career in the military,” he said. “[They] helped us as a class [with] memorization skills, planning, being able to work together. Great leadership skills for life.”

Michael Mottlau was one of the sergeants at Woodstock North on Wednesday and said the goal was to show students how to work together more effectively.

“[We’re teaching] the kids how to work together as a team,” he said. “The ultimate lesson of it was: As you’re going through life, you’re not alone.”

Mottlau, who is also an Army recruiter, said the exercises were designed to help the students, and the day was not about encouraging them to join the military.

“Today we’re here specifically just for team building,” he said. “Whether they join the Army or not, it’s just fun to hang out with them. It’s a really good opportunity for us to interact with the community.”

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