Students Embrace After School "Magic"

"It's addictive. It's fun. We love it and we love coming here," said TKHS student David Cove who attends the after-school game gatherings nearly every week.

Merle Simmons III, a senior, said he loves the strategic challenge of the game. "It's all just about the game and having fun. I like to see who comes every week and get into games with different people," he said.

There are no formal requirements and no one needs to reserve a space or is mandated to attend. It's strictly a time when Dudik stays after school for 60 to 90 minutes and offers his room for anyone who wants to gather and play the game.

"Students were playing in the Main Street area and the hallways. Then a student asked me if we could use the room and I thought, why not?" said Dudik. "It gives them a safe place to socialize and have fun. A lot of times, these aren't the kids involved in sports and they want to have something social after school."

Dudik said it's not limited to just kids who want to play the "Magic" game. "It can be any kind of game, but it's mostly kids who are into the "Magic" game," he said. Dudik, himself, is a fan of the game and started playing about three years ago. He's not the only teacher either. Fellow TKHS teacher Alex Robinson also joins the group after school when he can.

The game "Magic" was first released in 1993. "Magic" was the first trading card game of its kind produced and it continues to thrive today with an estimated 12 million players. The game can be played by two or more players, each using a deck of 60 or more cards.

Games represent battles between wizards. Different Magic cards have different powers and strengths and are strategically used to win the battle. Since Magic was released, there have been many different editions of the cards released and players sometimes spend hundreds of dollars collecting the most powerful and rare cards. Larger decks often offer more variety of scenarios to play. Since "Magic" was released, other trading card games have followed including Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh.

"It's a game a strategy and war. The more different cards you have, the more options you have to play," said TKHS student Richard Hodges.

Avery Martin, a ninth grader, said he was into Pokémon for awhile until he found the Magic card game in his parents' office. "This is more of an adult game. I like it because it's fast and it's sometime difficult. There's a lot of strategy. But it's lots of fun," he said. "I think more people come because we have a place to get together now."

There are an average of 20 to 25 students who participate in the weekly sessions. "Sometimes every desk is filled," said Dudik who calls the game his "nerdy badge of honor."

Noah J. Miller said he also appreciates the space to play the game. "It just gives us a place where everyone can get together more easily. I'm glad Mr. Dudik opens his class for us," he said.

Felicia Bates is a 10th grader and one of only a few females who regularly attends the after school sessions. "My brother always talked about it and I wanted to learn it too," she said. "It's great to be able to get together with a bunch of people after school and you have something in common."

Dudik said he's found an unexpected benefit. "It really gives me a chance to make better connections with some of the students. I get to know them outside of the regular classroom, and they get to know more about me," he said.