Seniors Give Advice to Their Grade 9 Selves

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We tend to take many things for granted: the people around us or the opportunities with which we are presented, all because we truly don’t realize what we have until they’re gone.

This rings true for our education as well. Despite all we do to complain, there are many people who really do look back on high school as the “best four years of their lives.” We are told to cherish these years while we still can, as the “real world” is a much scarier place than the small community we are used to.

From grade 9, all the way up until grade 12, high school provides us with many experiences that influence who we become. Not only do we grow as people, but we also mature into entirely different people. I know I’m not the same grade 9 student who walked through the Hazel Street doors on the first day of Grade 9.

The change you experience throughout high school is inevitable, but I still wanted to know more. I decided to ask ten grade 12 students about their lives in grade 9, and more specifically, to answer the following question: “If you could speak to your grade 9 self, what would you say?” What follows is a variety of different answers, all of which I found enlightening.

Jenn M.:

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“I would tell myself to participate in more sports and clubs early on. Grade 9 and 10 are easy academically so I definitely wish I had gotten involved more.”

Paul T.:

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“ I would advise myself to get my act together and focus on my school work. You think it doesn’t matter now, but it will in the long run.”

Ritu S.:

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”I would say to my grade 9 self to never be afraid to speak my mind, or be intimidated into silence. I would also remind myself to not stress over the things that seem so small and unimportant now.”

Kanan G.:

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“To be honest, I never took school seriously in grade 9 and 10, so I would probably tell myself to develop better habits for the future.”

Lea S.:

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“I’d probably say that the stress you feel now is nothing compared to the stress in grade 12. Also, don’t be scared to audition for Concept in grade 9… being in the show is better than being an usher.”

Sam D.:

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“I should have gone to more events like Fast for Freedom and Relay for Life. School spirit never really mattered to me until I became a senior and began to get more involved.”

Jayde G.:

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“I wish I got more into the arts and ABCD and was more interactive with the school other than sports and volunteering. I also wish I did more university courses to put me on the greater path for my future.”

Adam T.:

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“I wish I’d made the push to be on ABCD… I wish I’d done more stuff within the school so that I could have an impact on the high school experiences of others.”

Adeolu B.:

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“I think I would tell my Grade 9 self to go talk to new people! For most of Grade 9, I stuck with my senior school friends all the time, so I didn’t get to really meet and get to know all of the awesome people from other schools that I now do!”

Mike D.:

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“I really wish that I had started football in Grade 9. At the time I didn’t realize how much sports meant to me, but now that I play on so many teams I have realized.”

It was fascinating to see how students change over time, and how their interests at the beginning of high school may be completely different by the end.

Although each answer was unique in its own way, there was one thing all responses had in common: involvement. Whether it be academics, the arts or athletics, getting involved in what you are passionate about is guaranteed to make high school a better experience. If you love helping others, why not join Relay for Life to raise money for the Cancer Society, or fast for a day to raise money for refugees.

After all, there needs to be something to keep students sane through the academic pressures of the year!

Removing the No-Hat Policy

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Rules are rules no matter what the situation may be, and we are all taught from a young age to follow those rules without complaint or objection. But what happens when we don’t agree with the rules? Or when the rules have poor justification behind them? These are the questions I began asking myself a few years ago about the “no hat” policy at WCI.

Of course there are several arguments as to why hats should not be allowed in school, but in my opinion, the reasoning behind them is not particularly convincing. I am often told by teachers and other staff members that the main reason hats are banned is for student safety. This explanation seems a bit questionable to me given the fact that two thirds of public schools in the Kitchener-Waterloo region allow their students to wear hats. The safety of students is obviously a major concern, but if the majority of high schools currently allow hats, they must not be a very serious threat.

In the past, hats have also been used to promote gangs and conceal contraband. These two issues are definitely not something to joke about, but in this day and age, students can find any number of different ways to hide illicit material or advertise violence if they feel so inclined. To put the situation into context, the Record recently reported that the Kitchener-Waterloo region has been considered one of the safest areas in all of Canada. This revelation suggests that although hats may be a concern in certain regions with high crime rates, Kitchener-Waterloo is simply not one of those regions.

Hats are also considered a “distraction” when it comes to participation in the classroom, but how is a hat different from any other article of clothing? I suppose administration could be worried about students fooling around with their hats in class and not paying attention to what’s being taught, but at the same time, if schools are really that concerned about distraction, why are cellphones not banned? A study from 2010 by the Pew Research Center reported that 58% of students send or receive text messages during class. While this is an American study, it is not hard to see similar evidence in our classrooms. Since 2010, the popularity of cellphones has only increased, so imagine what that number looks like nowadays.

Another point which is commonly proposed in the argument against hats is etiquette. Traditionally, it has been considered polite to remove hats upon entering any building. However, as time has passed, this school of thought has become less and less common. I believe that as long as hats are removed for the national anthem and any other formal occasion, they should be allowed in academic facilities.

I suppose the point I am stressing is: why not allow hats? What do we really have to lose?

At the end of the day, the “no hat” rule will undoubtedly vary from school to school. My general belief is that hats should be allowed, but with certain restrictions. I am certainly not saying that WCI should allow students to wear hats 100% of the time, but why not around the halls and at lunch? Even if hats continue to be banned from classrooms, allowing them during other school hours is always an idea.

Viking Polls: Climate Change

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With greenhouse emissions continuing to rise and ice sheets continuing to disappear, it is no wonder the world is facing such extreme levels of climate change.

The ongoing global crisis has reached an all time high and is resulting in serious consequences. Many do not realize the severity of climate change and that these consequences will affect everyone personally.

This past fall, climate change received more publicity, with a conference in early December that was attended by leaders of 195 countries. The conference, which took place in Paris, France, included all members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. According to The Guardian, the individuals who attended the conference discussed strategies for reducing global warming as a whole and set individual and collective goals to address climate change.

Because negotiations in the past have often resulted in a lack of agreement or consensus, this year’s conference took a different approach. As reported by Quartz, the conference took the unique strategy of “Indaba,” a southern African negotiation tactic: “Instead of repeating stated positions, each party [was] encouraged to speak personally and state their ‘red lines,’ which [were] thresholds that they [did not] want to cross.” The newly introduced tactic served its purpose, and all 195 countries were able to come to an agreement by the end of the conference.

Canada’s newly elected Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has many plans regarding climate change. The Huffington Post reported that the Canadian government has made a pledge to reduce emissions to 30% lower than the 2005 level by 2030. Also, Trudeau himself has made a promise to set aside $2.65 billion over the next five years to help protect the planet.

With ambitious goals in place, the hope is that individuals all around the world will make a conscious effort to limit global warming. It is hopeful that in future years the earth may be able to return to a healthy and safe state, making it livable for everyone.

For this installment of “Viking Polls,” we asked students questions relating to climate change statistics:

Article by: Melanie S

Video by: Jacob T and Melanie S

5 Ways to Save Money as A Student

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Being a student in high school, you may find yourself short on cash. If you do not have a part-time job you have no method of income, but if you do have a job, you may find yourself spending money too quickly. Whatever the situation may be, making money, and more importantly, saving money, may be a hard thing to do.

Here are five ways that can help you to become more responsible with your saving habits:

1. Walk everywhere you can:
You may not think so, but walking can save you a lot of money. Walking short distances instead of driving or taking the city bus will allow you to save small amounts of money which will build up over time. If you take a short bus ride home, consider walking instead, that way you can get some exercise, and save some change. If you drive, filling up gas and paying for your insurance will add up, this is where walking can help you as well.

2. Pack a lunch:
According to Save the Student, the average student spends approximately 75$ a month on food. Packing a lunch may take time, but think about how much money you can save. Buying a lunch everyday will add up. To put it into consideration, if you were to buy a three dollar lunch every school day, you would be spending approximately $69 a month. However, the reality is, it is extremely difficult to find a three dollar lunch, so think about that next time you buy a lunch at school.

3. Spend wisely:
You may have some sort of income, which is great, but spending the money you make responsibly can be difficult at such a young age. For example, you may see something at your favourite store in the mall that you simply cannot resist buying, no matter how expensive it is. This is called impulsive purchasing, and teenagers are notorious for it. As reported by Teens Cash Coach,  teenagers are always looking for the newest and coolest gadgets, due to today’s materialistic society. Consider spending your money in moderation, and thoroughly revising your decision while making a big purchase, because money does not grow on trees!

4. Open checking and savings accounts:
Spending money responsibly is one thing, but saving money responsibly is very different. If you have a bank account, you may wish to consider setting up a checking account as well as a savings account. Dividing your money and knowing exactly where it is can be very useful. For example, you may wish to put all of the money that you have saved since you were young in your savings account, while having the money which you make from your job in your checking account. That way you can keep your savings account aside, and use your checking account for purchases.

5. Put money away:
If you do have a job, put a set amount of money per pay cheque away in your savings account, and don’t withdraw it. Even $20 at a time is a good start. Regularly saving money like this will be a good habit to establish now, and you’ll be surprised by how the balance in the account will grow.

Although saving money may seem difficult, there are several different ways to help you save that are in fact very easy and effective. Try one or more of these five methods if you are in need of saving advice, because the sooner you learn to save, the better off you will be in future years.

Taking a Closer Look at the Tracks

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Lately, driving in the Kitchener-Waterloo feels like a constant traffic jam. With construction covering the region, many feel as though detours are now a part of their daily routine. The greatest cause of these obstructions is the construction of the new Light Rail Transit system (LRT), which has been a lengthy project.

The LRT system is a recent form of public transportation that strives to make traveling short distances faster and easier. There are three LRT systems in cities across Canada to date, and others are either being planned, or are under construction.

Even before construction began for the LRT system in Kitchener-Waterloo, there was much controversy. According to an article by CBC from 2013, the decision was thoroughly debated and then debated again, leaving many who disagree and agree with the final outcome. Some believe the LRT system will have tremendous value, while others believe it to be a waste of money.

With differing opinions on the matter, we have decided to show two sides of the LRT controversy from our perspective. Below are a few questions we asked each other about this ongoing issue.

Do you believe that the LRT system will pose difficulties with normal traffic in KW? Why or why not?

Mark – Right now, navigation around Waterloo is terrible. LRT construction has caused road closures throughout the region, which causes major delays on one’s everyday commute. Current construction has also made a large impact on local businesses. Once the construction of the tracks are complete and the trains are in service I think there will be an adjustment. It will take a while to get used to the new system; however, once the transition is complete, I believe the everyday traffic and the LRT can work in unison.

Mel – The construction is definitely an issue for many people in the region, especially due to the prolonged timelines in certain parts of the city. The construction has taken much longer than anticipated, but building the tracks is a lengthy process. In the future, once the construction is over, I think the LRT system will be able to run smoothly alongside traffic. In fact, there are already three systems in Canada that demonstrate how the two modes of transportation can co-exist without difficulty.

Will the LRT system really be more convenient than the Grand River Transit (GRT) system that is currently in place?

Mark – The trouble with the LRT stops is that they will be in a very straight line. Fewer stops along the way may make the train ride shorter; however, this still may not compensate for the time spent getting to the station. Going virtually straight down King Street for the most part, it may be a pain to use if you do not live within a reasonable distance of the downtown core. You can see a map of the track plans on the ION Site.

Mel – Absolutely. The LRT system will have fewer stops and move more quickly than the GRT system, which will make it much more effective and convenient. Since the system will have its own tracks it will not have as many issues with traffic and will be able to operate smoothly.

Do you believe that the transit system will pay off once it is finished?

Mark – I believe it will be a good thing, just not for a long time. Although the population of Waterloo is growing, I don’t think it is growing fast enough for the LRT to be useful for a while. I believe it will not be used by the amount of people it is hoping to for a long time. However, when the time is right I definitely think it could be used to its full potential.

Mel – I do believe that the transit system will pay off once it is finished. The region’s population is continually growing and according to The Region of Waterloo, there will be 200,000 new residents in the community over the next 20 years. Of course, the new system will require adjustments, but with the expected increase in population, the LRT will most definitely be worth it.

Whether you believe the change will be beneficial or not, there is no arguing that it will be a big change. Change can be hard sometimes, but the truth is, the LRT system will only ever be as successful as residents make it. You can put the transportation in place for these residents, but that does not guarantee it will be utilized. We can speculate about how useful the system will be, but until it is in service, it will all remain a question.

Article by: Mark M and Melanie S

A Look Back at Fall Sports

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As the last leaves fall from their trees, and the winter frost start to creep in, it is evident that the fall sports season has ended, and the winter season is beginning. Before we move on to the winter sports season let’s take a look back on 2015 fall teams.

BASKETBALL – SENIOR GIRLS 

The senior girls basketball team had a roller coaster of a season. The girls started off the season with a very exciting game against Bluevale, winning 41-40. The Vikings played strong with a 4-1 record in the first five games of the regular season.

This year they had a young team with only four veteran players trying to lead the senior girls back to their 17th straight CWOSAA and their 14th straight OFSAA bids. The senior girls finished the regular season with an impressive 10-2 record with their only losses coming against Cameron Heights and SJAM.

The girls played Bluevale in the quarter final match, who they had had a tight game against during their season opener. The Vikings took a 19 -1 lead going into halftime, but a unrelenting Bluevale team stormed back into the game, and after some debatable foul calls, the Vikings lost 33-36.

A disappointing season the the Senior Vikings, but what was a young team this year will be a veteran one next, and they will surely be ready to make another deep OFSAA run.

Written by: Michael F

CROSS COUNTRY – CO-ED

Cross country is a team sport unlike any other: although one is part of a team, events are competed by individuals. It is a sport that is both mentally and physically demanding. The athletes of WCI exerted themselves in a total of five races this season, including CWOSSA. The top ranking athletes from each category at CWOSSA were as follows; Julie G. (midget girl), Scott A. (midget boy), Erin H. (top junior girl), Jaden S. (top junior boy), Jessica B. (top senior girl), and Jason H. (top senior boy). With the conclusion of the season, five of the team members completed their fourth and fifth years on the cross country team: Jessica B., Natalie C., Jason H., Daniel L., and Thomas M.

Written by: Natalie C

FIELD HOCKEY – GIRLS 

The varsity girls field hockey team had bit of a shaky start to their season. They won their first game in a landslide over Galt Collegiate Institute 6-1, but in their very next game, Cameron Heights got a couple lucky bounces and won 4-1.

In their first five games the team managed to go 3-2. Despite the rocky start, the girls worked hard at practice, which would pay off for them as they would go on to have a very strong season, finishing 10-4-2.

The girls went on to play in the quarter finals against Bluevale, a team they had only played once during the regular season, a game that had ended in a 0-0 tie. The quarter final game was bound to be a good one, but unfortunately mother nature was not cooperative. Bluevale was able to get the first goal and, unfortunately for the Vikings, that would be the only goal scored. The rain never let up, making it hard for the Vikings to try and get back into the game and so they lost 0-1. The season ended sooner then they would have liked, but they fought hard right until the end.

Written by: Michael F

FOOTBALL – SENIOR BOYS 

This year the Senior Boys’ Football team had an unexpected, successful season after finishing their last two seasons with records of 0-8 and 2-6. They finished the regular season with a record of five wins and one loss. Their only loss was to the SJAM Highlanders, a game they lost 12-9 at Spirit of Waterloo.

The Vikings had a powerful offence this year, putting up an average of 28 points per game. The Vikings “D” only allowed an average of 9 points per game. The WCI football team outscored their opposition with 187 points for and only 57 points against.

Despite these high scores, the team suffered many key injuries during this season, which was especially unfortunate as they were already short numbers. A significant loss happened when starting quarterback, Mark C., broke his wrist during Spirit of Waterloo.

The Vikings did advance to the semi-final playoff game after beating the KCI Raiders in the quarter final 21-0. Mark C. stepped in as a running back during the semi final game, playing with a casted left arm. Going into the playoffs, the Vikings were seeded second. They played the undefeated JHSS Hawks, who had outscored their opponents by an average of 40 points per game. In the semi final, the Vikings took a 14-0 lead on their first two drives of the game, putting JHSS behind for their first time all season. The Hawks’ offence started to click and, going into half-time, they tied the game at 14-14. JHSS would not stop there and went on to score another 17 points, silencing the Viking offence for the rest of the game. The final score was 31-14 for the Hawks. The Hawks’ comeback marked the end of the Vikings’ tremendous season, but the Vikings were proud of how well they performed throughout the season.

Written by: Zach B

VOLLEYBALL – SENIOR BOYS 

The fall season for the Senior Boys Volleyball team was about perseverance until the very end. What may have been most important about these boys is that they grew both as players and as men over the course of the season.

The team finished the season with nine wins and five losses at the end of the regular season, earning them the sixth seed going into the playoffs. The team handled their first playoff game easily, winning three sets to none against KCI. Their next matchup was against the number three seed, the GRCI Renegades, but the Vikings lost three sets to none. The score of the game really is not a testament to how the team played as they lost all three sets with a score of 25-23. Despite being a disappointing end to the season, the team can take pride in their grit and resilience.

Written by: Mark M

TENNIS – CO-ED

In previous years, WCI has been very successful in tennis matches, winning many events at WCSSAA, CWOSSA and even OFSAA. This year, the Vikings’ open tennis team had much success yet again.

At WCSSAA, the girls doubles duo, Ritu S. and Christina W., the girls singles player Sierra O. and the boys singles player Tom P., all came in second place. The boys doubles team of Cameron K. and Kevin Y. as well as the mixed doubles pair Elizabeth D. and James D. placed third. With such results, these players continued on to CWOSSA. At the tournament, the girls doubles, boys singles, girls singles, and mixed doubles players all qualified for OFSAA, with the girls doubles team placing first.

As a whole, the WCI team placed second overall at WCSSAA and tied for first at CWOSSA. OFSAA will be taking place in June 2016, and the Vikings hope to be just as successful as they have been so far this year.

Written by: Melanie S

Photography by:  Natalie C

Cake Boss Challenge 2015: Results

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After the past five days of voting, the 2015 Cake Boss Challenge poll is now closed and the results are in. The Sponge Bob cake, created by a group of grade 10 girls, came out on top with 50% of the total votes. Surf’s Up was a distant second with nearly 13% and D’oh took third place with just over 10% of the votes.

Congratulations to all grade 10 students from the Grade 10 Food and Nutrition classes who took part in the challenge. The pictures below show the bakers behind the delicious-looking creations.

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Photography by: Mr. Nelson and Ms. Sawatsky

WCI Poll: Cake Boss Challenge

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At WCI, there are many traditions that have existed for several years. These traditions hold a special place in the hearts of Vikings, whether they are athletic, artistic or academic. One newer tradition is the Cake Boss challenge, which is a friendly competition between the grade 10 Food and Nutrition classes. It is viewed as one of the highlights of the course: students spend a week creating a cake that is judged on creativity, design and taste. With little help from the teachers, this challenge allows the students to independently test their skills in the kitchen while collaborating with their peers.

This semester, Mr. Nelson’s and Ms. Sawatsky’s grade 10 classes invite FJORD’s readers to participate in the challenge: to help select the winner, vote on the cake with the best design.

Photography by: Mr. Nelson and Ms. Sawatsky

5 Ways to Prepare for College/University

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As a high school student approaching the finish line, the thought of college/university is one which brings out many different emotions. You may be thrilled to leave your boring hometown behind, or you may fear change and the idea of moving on. Whatever your emotion may be, you must know how to be prepared for the transition. Here are five steps you can take to prepare yourself for your post secondary education.

  1. Sort Out a Financial Plan

College/university is NOT cheap. There are many expenses which may seem extremely overwhelming coming into first year. Textbooks, tuition and housing are just the primary expenses, but you must still consider other expenses, such as food, school supplies and more. Outlining a rough financial plan may just save you. It is important to spend as little as possible while at school, and having this financial plan may help you to keep your spending to a minimum. For tips on money, and how it should be saved/spent responsibly, check out the following link .

  1.   Forget About High School

Consider high school as a finished chapter of your life, and allow yourself to move on. Forgetting about high school will allow you to meet new people and experience new things. According to The Huffington Post, clearing your mind of the past allows you to better enjoy the future. College/university is not going to be like high school, and once you realize this, the transition will become much easier.

  1.   Accept and Embrace Change

The reality is, college/university is going to be a big change. Humans tend to be afraid of change, and as reported by Life Hacker this is completely normal. Post secondary education will push you out of your comfort zone in several different aspects, but that is a good thing. You may have relied on your parents throughout high school, but in college/university, you must learn to be independent. Although you may not enjoy the busy life as a college/university student at first, being open, and having a positive attitude towards the situation will allow you to clearly see that it is not so bad.

  1.   Be Organized

Just like any other year, you must be sure to have all of the necessary supplies for school. Only this year, apart from school supplies, you must also pack supplies for living. If you plan on living at home this is not a concern, but if you plan to live in residence, you have a lot of packing to do. Pack what you need, not everything you own. According to Maclean’s, students are notorious for packing things which they never even use while away at school. So make sure to pack the essentials, not everything you own.

  1.    Stop Stressing

Looking ahead, college/university can seem very overwhelming, but stressing about it certainly will not help. As reported by Mayo Clinic, stress can be very damaging to the body, and is linked to many illnesses. Of course there is much to do before beginning your first year, but worrying about it will only make it worse. If you are looking for ways to cope with your stress try using these 7 steps.

At the end of the day, college/university is going to be an emotional journey. There will be good times, and there will be bad times, but that is merely a part of growing up. So next time you are freaking out about preparing for first year, remember these easy steps and try your best to relax.

Photography by: Ms. Klassen

Second Round of Intramurals Begin

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When WCI transitioned from a non-semestered to semestered timetable this year, intramurals became a possible reality. Many other high schools run intramurals, but in previous years, intramural activities were impossible at WCI due to the absence of a common lunch.

The new program, which has caught the attention of students and staff throughout the school, is run by students themselves. Mr. Nickel, student council advisor, said, “The initiative of the students running intramurals is truly amazing. They really do have a passion for the activity.” These students plan which sports to feature, as well as the schedule of when each team will play. This job is definitely not an easy one, but with such great student leaders, intramurals are able to successfully run.

When asked about intramurals, and how they have been going so far, Danielle S, a member of the intramural committee, said, “Dodgeball went very well. It has been the only event so far, and we had many teams sign up. There were always spectators in the gym cheering for the teams, and there was even a team of teachers who participated.”

In total there were 14 teams who took part in the dodgeball intramurals. In the end, it was a group of grade 12s who battled their way to victory, going undefeated throughout the tournament. Islam T, a member of the winning team, said, “Dodgeball was a really great time. I’m definitely interested in participating in intramurals again. They were managed really well and I think my whole team would agree.”

The word of intramurals is spreading quickly around the school, and although there were many teams who participated in dodgeball, there are many who did not, but who wish to participate in the future.

Maddy Kim, a grade 11 student at WCI explained, “I didn’t take part in intramurals but watching them was so much fun. To be honest I kind of regret not getting a team together, but I want to participate next time for sure!”

There are many other sports which will be featured over the course of the year, which cater to the diverse athletic talent at WCI. The next sport, which will begin next week, is 3 on 3 basketball, and other potential sports include floor hockey, soccer baseball and bench ball.

Intramurals are a great way to be active and enjoy sports, without the heavy time commitment and cost of varsity sports. They allow Vikings to meet new people, and to have fun while doing so. Although this is only the first year of intramurals at WCI, it is with high hopes that there are many more programs to come.