DUNWOODY, Ga. – It’s not often one sees robots and fencing sabers in the same space, but thanks to the generosity of Regency Centers, that is what’s happening in the Dunwoody Hall Shopping Center.
Many lesser-celebrated activities at the high school level were victims of COVID-19 restrictions, including Dunwoody High School’s 20-member fencing club, which has not been sanctioned as a Georgia High School Association sport.
“Since the GHSA doesn’t sanction fencing, it’s not recognized as a sport in DeKalb County,” said David Kopel, whose son, Jonathan, captains the club. “Club sports were not given a place to practice or compete (within the DeKalb County School System).”
Unhappy with the thought that the season would be lost, the elder Kopel started looking for a practice space outside of the high school. He hit paydirt with a call to Regency Center’s Flinn Boston. The company allowed the members to practice in an empty space in the Dunwoody Hall Shopping Center that was formerly occupied by a pet store.
“A lot of companies say they are community-minded, but never really do anything,” Kopel said. “But Regency walked the walk and talked the talk. Regency allowed us to have a season.”
Another club affected by COVID-19 restrictions was the school’s 30-member First Robotics Competition team. Because the fencers only used the space a few times a week, there was room for another group to share the area.
“We had really outgrown the build space available at the high school,” said Paul Spencer, who coaches the robotics team. “Sharing the space with the fencing club has worked out really well for us.”
The fencing club practiced on Thursday, while the robotics team used the space on Wednesdays. Each team ended its season with a tournament, which earlier in the school year seemed like an impossibility.
“This kind of community spirit and cooperative effort on behalf of the students of Dunwoody is commendable,” Kopel said.
Regency Center’s Boston could not be reached for comment.