GAME TIME IN THE PHYSICS CLASSROOM

New game developed by NDP students combining ping-pong and handball and named after teacher was designed for community time.

Notre Dame senior Reid Gaboury ’20 is with NDP physics teacher Jennifer Pakkala, who was the inspiration for the new game's name, Pakkaball.


When the new school schedule rolled out at the beginning of the current school year, it included a daily dose of "community time," which loosely replaced SRT, or scheduled relief time. Both were designed to provide some non-academic space during a busy day for students to decompress, relax a little or catch up on homework — and perhaps catch up with fellow students.

FOR INFORMATION ON NOTRE DAME'S UPCOMING OPEN HOUSE FOR THE LOWER SCHOOL, CLICK HERE.

Back in late 2017, a few enterprising seniors, i.e., Ross Patterson, Machus Turner, Nick Evans and Anthony Pangori, decided it might also be a good time to work on creating a new game and then, well, play it.

According to current senior Reid Gaboury, those four seniors, now proud 2018 alums, came up with a game with decidedly ping-pong roots called "Pakkaball."

A button also was designed for the World Pakkaball Federation.


Cementing a legacy

"The World Pakkaball Federation was created by Ross, Machus, Nick and Anthony with the permission of physics teacher Mrs. Pakkala, who also was the inspiration for the name of the game," Gaboury said. "The WPF hosted massive tournaments during SRT periods every year. But due to the schedule change for this school year, Pakkaball was moved to the community time slot."

Pakkala said the students play nearly every Tuesday through Friday during community time in her classroom, which is located in the Easterwood Wing. She said Gaboury designed and developed a WPF website and had up until recently pretty much taken over the management and promotion of the games.

"Reid made the website last year during a study hall because he was motivated to get all the rules down officially before the Class of 2019 left us," she said. "We had trophies, announcers, pins; it was amazing! Reid is now trying to cement his legacy as the guy who made the rules official and who now is passing it on to younger students."

Pakkaball is played by bouncing a ball on the surface of two standard lab tables.


Ping-pong with hands, not paddles

The game, which typically is played in Pakkala's physics classroom, involves two teams of two players, each "batting" a rubber ball about the size of a softball with bare hands back and forth across two lab-type tables. 

The "official" World Pakkaball Federation handbook, says, "Pakkaball is an athletic test of coordination, skill, teamwork and precision. (It is also notable as the most popular sport in the E Wing.) Two teams of two players compete against one another in the attempt to be the first team to score 11 or 21 points."

FOR INFORMATION ON NOTRE DAME'S UPCOMING OPEN HOUSE FOR THE LOWER SCHOOL, CLICK HERE.

Gaboury noted that since he currently does not have Pakkala as a teacher this term, he's turned over most of the Pakkaball reins to a fellow NDP student who does. 

"There's a junior named Adam Martin, and I'm passing the torch to him in terms of being the official student rep for Pakkaball," said Gaboury, who in the fall will be studying architecture in Georgia at the prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design. "Mrs. Pakkala says that Adam plays it with his friends in community time a whole lot, which is cool. I've actually been meaning to organize a 'club' for Pakkaball during community time, but, like many high school seniors, I have honed and perfected my procrastination skills.

"But Pakkaball is sort of my way of leaving my mark on NDP, plus it's definitely something I've had a lot of fun with," Gaboury added.

For Mrs. Pakkala, who is a bit humbled that the students would name a game after her, it's still another example of what makes Notre Dame special.

"This is one of the many things that make NDP unique," she said. “Even though we have a rather challenging academic curriculum, our students still can make up games and we allow them and encourage them to do so in order to add some real fun into their school days. Some kids just need to play — even in high school. I remember that at the 2018 graduation ceremony, Jack Crowe gave the valedictory address and talked about all of the games the Class of 2018 invented during their time in the high school. Pakkaball actually was one of those games."

Pakkaball involves "batting" this rubber ball with bare hands back and forth across two lab-type tables. 

FOR INFORMATION ON NOTRE DAME'S UPCOMING OPEN HOUSE FOR THE LOWER SCHOOL, CLICK HERE.

Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three school are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at www.ndpma.org.