‘An outlet for students’: Gaming in the classroom in Lancaster County

LANCASTER, Pa. -- Video games are taking over some classrooms in our area.

Contrary to what some parents think, organizers say it’s not just about having fun.

At Lancaster Catholic High School, there is a classroom unlike any other with new computers built so students on the E-sports team can game together.

They practice during a free period, and soon, they will be practicing after school too.

"This is the E-sports club, and we are playing games," explained Uyen Duong, a senior and the team's captain.

When the bell rings for their free period, the students gear up for practice.

The students cannot game without an adequate headset or mouse.

“We do practice for tournaments ‘cause we do get prizes," added Duong, who is set to graduate this spring. “I would play this, if my college has an E-sports team, I would join it.”

Organizers want parents to know it’s not all fun and gaming though.

What the students are learning could lead them into their careers after high school.

"This could be IT support. It could be media, journalism, all kinds of fields that surround E-sports," explained Brianna Titi, a spokeswoman for the Emerald Foundation. "We recognize not all students will be pro-gamers, but we do realize there are a lot of opportunities within E-sports available here in Lancaster County."

"They need to learn how to practice," explained Terri Swisher, the team's general manager. "They need to learn how to figure out who is going to be the active player and who is the supporting player."

Swisher is also the school’s director of computer technology.

“I never thought I would be watching students [play games]," said Swisher. "I used to tell my own children to stop playing video games. I understand now how important it is for this group of students to have their outlets.”

The students will soon be competing against other kids from Lebanon and Lancaster Counties in online tournaments.

They will play popular games like League of Legends, Overwatch, an Super Smash Brothers.

“It’s exciting, and terrifying," added Duong. "I have heard cause my cousin goes to another school, and he’s on a different team, and he’s fairly good.”

The Emerald Foundation, based in Manheim Township, helped Lancaster Catholic set up their E-sports team.

The organization hopes to have schools all-along the east coast one day competing against teams from the west coast.

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