The new game from Niantic, Pokemon Go!, has swept the nation racking up 100 million downloads on Google Play alone, and has an average play time of 43 minutes per user, per day, according to SimilarWeb.
HBA students have joined the craze and many can be seen gathering in places where certain Pokemon appear. Because of the game’s unprecedented popularity, the HBA administration has decided to rollout new additions to this year’s school curriculum, integrating the popular game into everyday learning at the school.
According to Vice Principal Ryan Frontiera, the change was a necessary one. “So many students are playing Pokemon Go that it was obvious we had to go with the flow of the current times. We feel that Pokemon Go will help engage our students and teach them about the importance of exploring their environment. This complements one of our new ESLRs, curiosity.”
In order to keep Physical Education classes relevant, students taking P.E. will be given armbands for their phones to help them hatch their Pokemon eggs while running. Freshman Kaycee Nakashima, a first year student at HBA, is impressed by the changes. “These new armbands are great, ” she said, “and I love that the school really cares about students’ concerns.”[one_third]
“We feel that Pokemon Go will help engage our students and teach them about the importance of exploring their environment. This complements one of our new ESLRs, curiosity.”
Vice Principal Ryan Frontiera[/one_third]
The game is also being incorporated into HBA Athletics. To raise funds for new jerseys and to give runners incentives to run farther and faster, the Cross Country team will be renting out runners to help catch Pokemon. Cross Country coach Aaron Kondo was responsible for hatching the idea. “Because of budget cuts, we needed to look for new ways to raise money,” he said. “We had other ideas in mind, but we thought this would attract the most people, seeing how popular the game is. Plus running for guts and glory doesn’t seem to motivate today’s young runners.” He urged students to support this effort so that the team will not be reduced to running in used HBA uniforms from the Eagle Closet.
The sudden surge in Pokemon players has also led to Frontiera’s office becoming a PokeStop and the high school gym becoming a Pokemon Gym. PokeStops are locations where players can go to get free in-game items. Gyms are where players battle for control of the gym for their team. The administration is pleased to see more students dropping by to visit with Frontiera, and students report that they are becoming more physically active and adept as a result of the game. “My peripheral vision has improved tremendously since I started playing the game. I can now walk and look at my phone at the same time without running into things,” junior Joel Lau said. Freshman Jarin Ashimine, a veteran Pokemon trainer at level 22, prides himself on perfecting the the “ride & swipe” hunt. He explained, “My friends and I go out on our bikes and most of us can catch Pokemon without even slowing down. The secret is to perfect using your phone with just one hand. Some of the pros don’t even have to look at their screens when they swipe.” Ashimine admits he’s crashed his bike a few times from taking his eyes off the road. “But it’s all worth it, you know. No pain, no Pokemon,” he added, as he pointed to his bandaged knees.
There are three teams in Pokemon Go: Instinct, Valor, and Mystic. When players reach level 5, they must choose to represent one of these teams when battling in gyms. The student council is offering an ice-cream and pizza party to the team that controls the gym on the last day of every quarter. “We found out that students don’t like to get sweaty, so we decided that instead of dodgeball intramurals, we are going hold this Pokemon Go contest,” explained vice president junior Megan Yamauchi. Senior Shalev Eckert, who is a proud level 21 player, was thrilled to hear the news. “I am super excited, and ready for my team (Mystic) to win,” he said.
Students who want to sign up for Cross Country runner-Pokemon catchers should click here for a list of available runners and their pricing. There are different pricing tiers, depending on mileage and skill. Varsity runners fall into the most expensive tier. Kondo points out that the team will not be responsible for any damage that may occur to mobile devices while the team is out on their hunts.