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EDGE Course at Florida School Goes From Conception to Installation in 10 Days


Story by Gene Varano. Photo Credit: burnsscitech.org

Oak Hill, Florida -- The Burns Science & Technology Charter School in Oak Hill recently rolled out their new 9-hole, 18-tee disc golf course on their campus, specifically designed with a kids-length layout averaging 200 feet per hole. What's truly amazing about this course is how quickly it came to be. Designed by Gene Varano #62356, the course matured from concept to installation in just 10 days. The "STEAM school" is a magnet school for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, and has been awarded a grant from the Educational Disc Golf Experience (EDGE) program to incorporate the EDGE Standards Based Curriculum into their classrooms.

EDGE was developed by a group of World Champion disc golfers and subject matter experts to give educators and youth organization leaders the tools for teaching a fun, easy-to-learn lifetime sport to young people. EDGE also links classroom subjects such as math, science, and civics to the sport, bringing those subjects into situations that will make learning come alive.

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“I have been wanting to get the EDGE Program into the school system in my area for almost eight years but our schools are generally locked and fenced facilities closed to public use after hours and on the weekends. This particular charter school is private, but the course is going to be available to the community as a public park,” said Gene. “One of my friends called me on Wednesday evening, asking if I could help.” He relays, “ His wife being a kindergarten teacher, she mentioned to him that the Physical Education Coach had heard disc golf might be a good option in his classes, and good for general recreation during recess.”

In between other career-related work efforts the next day, Gene was able to consult with David Shope of EDGE to develop a plan to present to the faculty. Seeing the curriculum and how many more classrooms could use the lesson plans, the faculty and community leader Dana Greatrex agreed it was more than they thought possible, and were eager to implement a course as a school and community asset.

“Gene moved so fast. I’ve never seen anyone that gets so much done in so little time", said Greatrex. "He really impressed us with the presentation, showing us how much the school can use disc golf, and of course, being able to have it as a community feature is such a bonus. He came to the City Commission and again gave a quick overview, and was able to answer the Commission’s questions so fast and so well. We knew it was going to be a great success. We can’t thank him enough for his help in our school getting an EDGE grant for the curriculum.”

The course was installed in just a few hours on the following Saturday by representatives of five local disc golf clubs, all of which shared the same thoughts and values. Volunteering to build a course at a school is so much more rewarding than just shooting birdies at league. The New Smyrna Beach Disc Golf Club, Daytona Disc Golf, Debary Disc Golf Club, Orlando Disc Golf Club, and Old School Disc Golf Club all lent a hand to get the course put together.

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“When I looked at the existing available space, I knew it wasn’t a lot of acreage, but I knew I could make a safe loop out of it,” said Gene. “Considering the kids who attend school there, and the parents who might play after hours, I created a short course that will be very playable for both. The juniors will play each hole as a par 3, the big people will play pitch-and-putt, par 2. The course had to have some convertibility to it since they need a soccer and football field space, but I also wanted it to be unintimidating to the kids too. Too often I see kids get frustrated, trying to outdrive the big people on full-size courses, really over-throwing their shots. With this kind of course, the kids can play and work on their accuracy and distance before moving on to mom or dad’s favorite full-size course.”

The new course went through a soft opening coinciding with the start of the new school year, and some of the typical disc golf course features have been purposely left uninstalled. Signage and wayfinding will be developed in the art classes with a mentor in the sign industry who is an alumni of the former elementary school, Tom Johnson #23411, 40 years prior. Technology classes will be populating a Course Directory database. Science and Physics will be working with their new custom stamped discs to label them using the periodic table of elements.

“I don’t expect there to be a full course of players every weekend, but I do expect to see some new players and not just juniors. The kids will be able to check out a starter bag from the library, which should have some lightweight discs for them, but some heavier discs for mom and dad to use," continued Gene.  "For my friends that have school age kids who have resisted trying to play with mom and dad on a full sized course, I think the attraction of a simpler shorter course without Saw Palmetto and water hazards is going to be well received.”

For more information about EDGE, please visit the Educational Disc Goilf Experience website at EDGEdiscgolf.org.

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