BROCKWAY — The Brockway Area Junior-Senior High School FFA Chapter got new student officers recently, and advisers Kyle Norman and Matt Holt decided to lock them in a room and see how well they worked together.
Norman and Holt took the students to Escape Room Punxsy. Escape rooms are planned activities where groups work together to solve puzzles and find clues to get out of the room. To make the activity more fun, escapees have to get out within an hour. Escape Room Punxsy has two rooms with more coming soon.
“I heard about a friend who did an escape room and thought that it would be a good way to promote teamwork for our new officers,” Holt said.
The FFA officers work together to make sure FFA meetings are run smoothly. To this end, Holt and Norman hold an “Officers’ Boot Camp” every year to teach their members how to act during meetings, how to run meetings, and how to work as a team to make FFA a fun organization. At every meeting, each officer has to recite his or her office title and what that office entails. They also have to conduct orderly meetings.
“Orderly” does not describe how the group started out in the escape room.
“It was fun watching them start out as a giant mess, everyone working on their own,” Holt said. “Then they started to work together and finally came together as a team. They solved the puzzle and got out of the room.”
The victory was not assured: the group was made up of members of the same generation, and those members are not familiar with certain recent-but-obsolete technologies.
“They found a tape player that was a clue, but none of them knew what it was or how it worked!” Norman said. “But they solved it and made it out.”
“With two seconds left,” Holt added.
“It was a real sense of accomplishment,” Norman said. “And Punxsy was great – they gave us a room to sit down and debrief. We talked about their decisions and what they could have done better.”
“None of the officers had any idea that time was running out,” Holt said. “They were so focused that they said they didn’t think the hour had almost passed.”
As FFA leaders, this group has a tangible example of how they came together to be a group instead of individuals.
“This taught them how come together and lead without stepping on anyone’s toes,” Norman said.
“They started to vocalize their thoughts and ideas clearly,” Holt said. “They didn’t shout over each other.”
The Boot Camp is designed to help these high school students learn order. The officers have specific jobs to do during the meetings. They also have to focus on getting through all FFA business before wrapping up. After a day together, the new officers could recite their job titles and descriptions, discuss the order of the meetings, and talk about how to get out of an escape room.
Brockway FFA’s new officers are President Zachary Roush, Vice President Abigail Alford, Secretary Tylyn Fink, Historian Gaige Williams, Reporter Damian Nichols, Treasurer Justin Smith, Chaplain Jenna Ceriani, Sentinel Austin Wilson, and Alternate Paige Kalgren.