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Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators
Fostering student engagement
Embracing esports in middle school
By Michael Conroy | March | April 2023
Ocean View School District is a K-8 district that is committed to creating student connections. We know that there is no better way to do this than to foster student engagement.
Many of our students are interested in the rapidly expanding career pathways for jobs in gaming. In order to address this interest, Vista View Middle School, a STEAM school, created an esports elective course for students. What are esports? Simply put, esports are video games that are played in a highly organized and competitive environment. Esports enable students to strengthen their problem solving, teamwork, communication and STEAM skills. In addition, participation in school activities improves a student’s wellbeing, and research-based evidence shows that academic esports benefits a student’s overall academic performance and social-emotional learning.
“The kids who are participating in esports are spending a significant amount of time analyzing data, game statistics, and strategies — which directly supports the STEAM focus of our school,” commented Dr. Rasheedah Gates, Principal of Vista View Middle School.
Gaming can also help to improve visual perception, enhance memory and lead to better focus and attention. In the esports elective course, students are taught the discipline of gaming on a team. They spend 25 to 35 minutes engaged in strategic game playing. They learn about the characters in the games and have peers demonstrate the techniques or unique strengths of the characters that help them win games. Students also work on being a positive member of a team, using praise and encouragement for one another.
“Inclusiveness and accessibility are two big benefits we see in our esports elective,” Dr. Gates added. “Esports allow a diverse group of students to come together over a shared passion. Our students just finished a seven-week tournament and did very well learning sportsmanship, learning from mistakes and internalizing what success feels like.”
Vista View Middle School recently underwent a comprehensive school modernization that included a new esports technology classroom outfitted with advanced computers and monitors. The impressive classroom can accommodate 34 students at a time.
The esports electives include a semester-long class for 6th graders, and a year-long class for 7th and 8th graders. The classes are at capacity, and we plan to expand the program next year to accommodate all the interested students.

Michael Conroy is the superintendent of Ocean View School District.
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