Paris Middle School has been conducting the SWAT program for all eighth grade students for the past six years. The goal of the program is to build team work, confidence, improve critical thinking skills and increase knowledge.

SWAT stands for Surviving Withstanding Achieving Together.

Some of the competitions the students engaged in included challenges at the school’s ropes course, building a shelter out of found objects in nature and building a fire with flint.

Students are strategically placed on teams of 10 at the beginning of the school year. Students may earn bonus points for their SWAT team for positive behaviors such as perfect attendance and bringing in recycled items. SWAT points can be deducted for negative behaviors such as being assigned to In School Suspension and After School Detention.

The eighth graders competed in challenges throughout the school year. The culminating SWAT event was held the first week of May on Mount Magazine, where the students spent three days competing in Outdoor Classroom Challenges. These challenges included a hike to Signal Hill where students wrote poetry at the end of the hike; a scavenger hunt, where students used Flip cameras to record and identify items found in nature; a history hike led by Dr. Curtis Varnell of the Western Arkansas Educational Services Cooperative down Bear Gap Trail; a tour of the Visitor’s Center and Bears Program, led by park interpreter, Don Simons; and The Art of Nature, where students gathered things in nature to create a piece of art.

The winning SWAT team will be presented with medals at the honors assembly today (Wednesday). During the 2013 Outdoor Classroom Challenge, Arvest Bank of Paris provided and served hamburgers and hot dogs to the eighth grade students and their teachers.