Reaching New Heights

Since the late 1980s, rock climbing has been a unique part of the physical education classes at NASH.


Kate Gilliland

Milanna Habib (left) and Sophie Azar scale the rock wall during their period 4 gym class.

Kate Gilliland, Opinions Editor

One of the more original aspects of a North Allegheny education is the Physical Education Department. Stereotypically, as shown in high school movies and TV shows, PE is dreaded, with classic units such as running a mile, swimming, and weight training. However, North Allegheny PE classes are different from those shown in the movies, including less common units such as golf, boating, and tennis.

But perhaps the most unique is rock climbing, which takes place on climbing walls constructed beneath the Newman Stadium bleachers.

“[The rock climbing] unit is like no other we have in our NASH PE curriculum,” said senior PE teacher Mrs. Roman. “There are so many amazing benefits of rock climbing, from improved muscular fitness and flexibility to improved confidence and the relief of stress.”

The rock wall was constructed in 1982 by the Lifetime Activities Club and originally led by former tech ed teacher Mr. Randy Hart. The club first built a repelling wall, and the project grew from there.

But why build a rock climbing wall in the first place? And why do so beneath the stadium bleachers?

“That was the only vertical space in the school that would allow for top climbing,” said Roman. “At the time, there was really nothing in that space, and over the years, Mr. Hart began to ‘find more space’ to make it into what it is today.”

We see students helping, encouraging, and genuinely being happy for one another in the unit more than any other.

— Mrs. Roman, NASH PE teacher

Rock climbing was incorporated into the NASH gym curriculum between 1988 and 1989 when Mr. Hart assisted PE teachers to institute the skills and safety protocol required to maintain a safe and one-of-a-kind learning experience.

“Mr. Hart and his Lifetime Activities Club students did some amazing things over those years to make this area into what it is today,” said Roman. “They were also involved in designing other local school district climbing wall areas as well, helping them design and construct walls in their own schools.”

Thanks to Hart’s vision and dedication, North Allegheny now has one of the area’s most innovative gym units, teaching students communication and problem-solving skills, as well as the importance of trusting one another.

“We see students helping, encouraging, and genuinely being happy for one another in the unit more than any other,” said Roman.

The rock climbing unit has proven to be a favorite at NASH, allowing senior students the opportunity to try a unique activity in a safe environment that they might not get to experience otherwise.

“We are so thankful for this unit, as our students get to explore and experience something that many have never done before,” said Roman. “Hopefully, it will open their eyes to new and adventurous ways to be healthy and active.”