AI du Pont High School is leading the way for esports in Delaware with this sweet new arena-slash classroom

Two years ago, futures games first appeared on the scene with a mission to put Delaware on the esports map.

Much of the vision of its founders Stephen Sye, malcolm coley Y newdyfelton was to put esports in public schools, not just as a competitive sport, but as a Route for high school students interested in careers in the gaming industry.

This week, that vision took shape as Alexis I. du Pont High School (AIHS) officially launched its esports program with a Super Smash Bros. tournament in his new arena-slash-classroom of esports.

The sand, modeled after the e-sports arena the University of Delaware Launched in 2019, it was developed over the summer after the show raised its funds. In addition to computers, consoles, monitors, and screens, the room was designed with tiered levels and, perhaps most striking, a full-room video game mural by the artist. @fiacono360.

When students started the school year two months ago, they had no idea that there was an esports arena behind their closed classroom door.

“We did it in September and October,” said the AIHS director. Kevin Palladinetti saying Technically. “We wanted the hook and the wow factor. And then once we get them here, we’ll have career opportunities as well.”

The FFG founders at the AIHS esports arena

Futures First Gaming founders Newdy Felton, Malcolm Coley and Stephen Sye gear up for the tournament. (Photo by Holly Quinn)

When the doors finally opened earlier this month, students erupted in applause and an after-school club was formed. Trained by the AIHS Digital Media Master Jaime Varsalonathe club is stage one of the project, building the space as a work camp and showcase for high school students who choose a public high school.

For those unfamiliar with the Delaware public school system: The state uses a election system, and each high school has its own list of workforce development programs, also known as pathways, to help kids in their careers or college careers. Since 2015, Pathways has transformed public high schools with state-of-the-art facilities, including professional TV and film studios, commercial kitchens, robotics labs, and even fully-functioning farms.

AIHS has long been known for its marching band, art programs, and college prep, but in recent years it has fallen behind as a major draw for students under the choice system. With the esports program, Palladinetti aims to change that, along with esports’ reputation with some parents as unproductive.

“This is not just your son at midnight playing in the bedroom,” he said. “There is competition behind it, but there are also classes and different paths that they can travel. All of a sudden, they realize this massive market is out there.”

Front view of the AIHS arena

Seating is staggered on the AIHS esports field. (Photo by Holly Quinn)

University of Delaware esports teams – And it is scholarships for esports athletes: It has helped give the program legitimacy as a real and productive path to college and a career. The AIHS program by no means begins and ends with games, as students (and their parents) learn about the many career opportunities in the industry, ranging from things like programming and game development still range of behind the scenes jobs.

“The Pathway will cover all the digital skills the 21st century workforce needs,” Coley said.

The goal is for the proposed Esports Route to be fully approved by the Delaware Department of Education – not a quick process – and have students study esports starting next school year.

“The video game industry is almost $200 billion with a B [industry], that means while you have superstar players making six and seven figures a year, you have everyone behind the scenes helping them succeed,” Sye told the students before the tournament began. “You have people who are doing their marketing. You have people who are recording your video and creating your content and editing your content. You have lawyers representing some of these big money players. You have doctors making sure they’re in top health and sports nutritionists making sure they’re at peak performance.”

The AI ​​Tigers esports logo

The AI ​​Tigers esports logo. (Photo by Holly Quinn)

The esports track, which will technically be part of the existing digital media track, is just the beginning of the changes Palladinetti hopes to bring to AIHS in the coming years.

“We hope, with our fingers crossed, for an audio engineering pathway, a full-fledged recording studio,” he said. “We see that future courses for games would be a perfect complement for students who want to establish their tracks. Games, soundtracks – we hope to attract this generation of students on their creative level, but also as an employment opportunity.”

As the tournament was about to start, Sye announced that the winner would receive a trophy and automatic entry into Futures First Gaming’s. pandamonium tournament on December 3 at Wilmington University Brandywine Campus.

“The prize pool starts at $500,” he added.

“No pressure,” Varsalona said with a smile as students visibly reacted to the prospect of making money through esports so soon.

A couple hours later, senior aiden akbar won the first AIHS tournament and Pandamonium qualification.

Participants pose after the tournament

Tournament winner Aiden Akbar. (Courtesy photo)

You can watch a replay of the tournament the teams Twitch (@aihsesports) and follow us to catch up on upcoming live streams.

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