PORTLAND, Ore. - Anyone who is in, or has gone to, high school knows it can be a tough place.
But Lincoln High School senior Ethan Zerpa dreamed up a unique way to bring his school together.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Zerpa. “It’s great that I’ve been able to turn it into what it is. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a blast and I love it.”
We caught up with Zerpa as he was setting up for the last Dodgefest he’ll ever be a part of. He came up with the idea when he was a freshman, as a way to unite students.
“Let’s do something fun and bring our school together and boost that school spirit up again,” said Zerpa. “We came up with the idea of doing a dodgeball tournament.”
Teachers and fellow students didn’t expect much. But it was quick to catch on, becoming the most popular lunchtime activity at the school. It now lasts for three weeks every spring. Ethan holds all matches in the gym and many students spend their lunch period as spectators.
The tournament has even captured corporate sponsorships. Ben & Jerry’s was even there on the last day handing out free Greek frozen yogurt. Ethan also partnered with the March of Dimes, helping in fundraisers and encouraging fellow students to get involved in the charity.
“Ethan Zerpa is one of the most impressive student leaders I’ve ever worked with,” said Lincoln High School principal Peyton Chapman. “And this is my seventeenth year with Portland Public Schools.”
Ethan is a good dodgeballer too. He’s also part of a team that reached the finals. At that point, he decided to bow out.
“It seems unethical for me to play on my team in the championship game when it’s my tournament,” he said.
Ethan did, however, get a medal when his team won the championship.
“It feels good,” said Ethan. “I wish I could have helped out a little bit more in the final game, but I’m proud of them.”
Ethan now leaves Dodgefest to the underclassmen behind him. He’s even trained one of his friends to be leader of the tournament when he’s gone. He’ll now go off to college at the University of Colorado on a full-ride scholarship, where he plans to enter medical school.