Club Corner: Skateboarding

The Graded Gazette

When classes are released on Wednesday and Friday afternoons, the Graded campus transforms into a skate park. Racing down ramps, jumping over ropes, and weaving through hallways is a fleet of aspiring Tony Hawks and Rayssa Leals. Lower and middle school students, clad in colorful helmets, learn the basics of skateboarding—all while having fun.

Skateboarding is experiencing an international surge in popularity and respect, evidenced by its Olympic debut in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics (postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19). The sport, originally known as “sidewalk surfing,” traces its origins to 1950s California. Local surfers, looking for a way to practice when waves were flat, attached roller skate wheels to their boards. Skateboarding has since evolved into a popular action sport, developing its own subculture complete with a distinctive fashion, music, and community.

Known for its wide array of tricks, skateboarding consists of multiple styles, including street, vertical, freestyle, and park. At Graded, students focus on street skateboarding, mastering maneuvers executed on the streets, stairs, rails, and ramps of urban landscapes.

Skateboarding instructor Roberto Maçaneiro brings 30 years of experience on the board to the Graded After-school Activities Program. He enjoys the opportunity to use the sport as an educational tool as well as a means of social and physical development. 

“Skateboarding is very challenging,” he said. “There is a very important gain in motor development when you balance and move around on the skateboard. You also learn to be persistent when practicing new tricks.”

A typical Skateboarding Club lesson begins with a group warm-up, which may feature variations of popular games on wheels, such as tag and hide-and-seek. Skaters then practice their technical skills, eventually learning signature tricks. 

“My favorite trick is the ollie,” said grade 5 student Nick. “It’s the root of most of the tricks, like the kickflip.” 

Beyond the creation of a repertoire of stunts, Graded skaters emerge with perseverance, resilience, and determination—qualities that extend far beyond the rails of the skate park.