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AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR: Denver students working toward becoming “official” ninjas

DENVER, Iowa (KWWL) – One physical education teacher is challenging his students in a unique way. Kids in Denver Community School District are working toward becoming American Ninja Warriors.


Many of you may be familiar with the television show, American Ninja Warrior, where contestants try to finish a challenging obstacle course.

Kevin Shedenhelm, a Denver P.E. teacher, is creating his own version of the competition, just like the one TV.

“Anytime you put Ninja in front of any type of obstacle it’s going to bring excitement,” Shedenhelm said.

Shedenhelm said he first thought of the idea to bring the competition to his gym this summer. He built some of the obstacles with homemade materials. He said the course is a mental and physical battle for everyone who gives it a try.

“When [students] first tried to do the obstacles – a lot of the kids were saying, ‘I can’t do this,'” he said.

At the end of each P.E. class, children have the opportunity to run through the obstacle course.

Students must complete all four obstacles: going up a horizontal wooden peg board, going across a vertical wooden peg board, doing 3 pull-ups at the bar and climbing the distance of the rock wall and back. Once they get through each of the stations successfully, they become an “official” ninja.


Six Denver students have been crowned ninjas this school year, and their names are painted on the gym wall.

“I just wanted that award at the beginning of the year when they first announced it,” fourth-grader Jackson Joerger said. 

The ninjas also get their very own shiny wooden plaque made by none other than Mr. Shedenhelm.

“I’ll tell you. They really like that plaque,” he said. “Even some of the high school students say, ‘Can I have one of those plaques?’ I say, ‘Well, you have to earn it first.'”

While some of the students are not ninjas quite yet, many of them are working toward the coveted title. Shedenhelm said some kids are building their strength after school. He said he loves seeing their improvement.

“We have kids that have their moms and dads making peg boards at home,” Shedenhelm laughed.


For these ninjas, this is more than just a P.E. class.

“They start believing in themselves,” he said. “You can just see the bright light in their brain light up and say, you know, ‘I can do this.'”

This is a life lesson the students will carry with them forever: never give up.

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Olivia Schmitt

Morning Anchor

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