EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The Ysleta Independent School District is taking video games seriously.
The District is now the first in El Paso to offer competitive gaming or “eSports” as part of the curriculum for students in pre-K through 12th grade.
Their new initiative, #TheDistricteSports, will encourage students to participate in clubs or on teams that play video games as a way to learn new skills and potentially even secure a college scholarship.
In fact, that has already happened for one Eastwood senior. Joshua Jenkins accepted a $23,000 scholarship to attend Clark University in Iowa after he was recruited by the university’s eSports coach to join the team.
“I was a bit quiet at the start of junior year, but eSports helped me socialize and helped my mental state,” Joshua said. “I didn’t know much about eSports, and I was nervous for the first tournament I joined – but when I played, I felt better! So, when you ask why I enjoy eSports, it’s because it not only makes me feel better, but it has helped me grow as a person.”
The YISD eSports program also allows students to come in and play video games before school starts, giving them energy for the rest of the day. It also has the added benefit of reducing tardiness in students, since they aren’t rushing to get to school.
Additionally, the District says educators nationwide have praised gaming for its inclusiveness, diversity, and its link to skills that could one day lead to high-paying STEM jobs.
That could definitely be the case for Joshua after he secured a large scholarship thanks to his gaming abilities.
“When you think about me getting a $23,000 scholarship, it’s crazy,” Joshua said. “I’m really thankful and glad to be given such a great opportunity.”