A group of 14 Smith Elementary School students arrived an hour before school started Thursday morning for the first meeting of a newly formed Dungeons and Dragons group.
The group’s organizer, fourth-grade teacher P.J. Terry, said that the club is called “D&D, E+R=O,” and it was created to give students a new way to look at how “Events” and their “Responses” to those events create “Outcomes” (E+R=O).
Terry said Dungeons and Dragons, which he has been passionate about for years and plays often with his friends, is “a story telling game decided by the rolls of dice.”
Terry added D&D has experienced a bit of a resurgence in popularity after being featured on shows like “Stranger Things,” and he was partially inspired by the popular YouTube series “Critical Role” where a group of professional voice actors play Dungeons and Dragons together.
Terry decided he would try to put together a club to see if any fourth- and fifth-grade students were interested in learning how to play. He originally thought he would get about 10 students signed up, but was shocked when 42 students signed up to join the club, which has since been divided into three groups of 14 students that will meet once a month, an hour before school.
“With so many kids interested, I had to have three groups,” Terry said. “I talked to them about when sometimes we pick up a book and we think we’re really going to like it and we end up not liking it, it’s okay to put that book down. Dungeons and Dragons may not be their thing, but I want them to give it a few sessions and then they can walk away and say ‘Mr. Terry, this isn’t my thing,’ and that’s fine.”
Terry said he hopes to give students an opportunity to creatively think about their actions and consequences.
“I decided to incorporate E+R=O into each time we meet,” Terry said. “I’m going to give them either the event, the response or the outcome, and they have to think about those events and responses. We created characters this week. The outcome is ‘your character decided to become an adventurer, what event led to that and how did they respond,’ and they have to write a backstory about how they responded and why they became an adventurer.”
Terry said the group will also be an opportunity to build relationships for students.
Sometimes, school is so focused on content and we lose the ability to build relationships,” Terry said. “Bringing them together and saying ‘you’re a team now.’ Some are fifth-graders, some are fourth-graders, they don’t know each other well, but they are going to be a team that has to persevere and solve the puzzles that I throw at them. I’m requiring behavior to be an aspect of this group. We don’t pick on others whether or not we are in the group. We don’t say something mean or negative about anyone.”
Terry added he also sees the group as a creative outlet for the players.
“I’m really going to be pushing for creative writing. A lot of times the writing we do is personal narrative or informational, and I really want them to have a creative writing outlet,” Terry said.
Fifth-graders Chloe Titus and Bridgette Spires said Thursday that they joined the club because it seemed fun.
“It seemed like a fun thing to do,” Spires said. She added she became interested after the characters on her favorite show, “Stranger Things,” played Dungeons and Dragons. “I just want to know all the rules and how to play.”
Spires said the group spent Thursday creating their characters, and she’ll be playing a ranger character in the game.
Titus, who will be playing a barbarian character, said she learned a lot about the game Thursday.
“It seemed like fun,” Titus said. “It’s called Dungeons and Dragons, and I like dragons. I’m hoping I can play it on my own time.”
Terry said he’ll meet with the next group of students next Thursday before school.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.