Building Better Humans - Powered by Spartan SGX


Based on a survey conducted by St. Louis University's Medical School in Spring of 2015, Irvington High School students (like many other schools across the U.S.) have unusually high levels of depression and anxiety and low levels of resilience.    Irvington High School has high academic standards - this has its benefits and fallbacks. The benefits include higher test scores (which is great for the school) but the fallback is that it breeds too much competition and not enough cooperation (students are vying against each other to get spots in elite colleges). Knowing that one simple solution does not exist, we are actively trying to attack these issues with a number of methods.

One of our solutions is Spartan SGX Training. Since 2014, a certified SGX trainer, comes to our football field and/or weight room every Saturday morning to set up an obstacle course and offer free training to our school community (staff and students). Our belief and reason for the training is to attack the issues above, namely high depression and anxiety, low resilience, and not enough cooperation. The physical exercise serves to make students feel better and take students' minds off of the causes of their issues, leading to a decrease in depression and anxiety. Next, the SGX coach works to teach students to, literally, overcome obstacles with an emphasis on building resilience; if students can overcome challenges here, they should be able to translate these successes to other areas of their lives. Finally, the best bonding experience is when a group of people get out of their comfort zones together. This has already been a unique opportunity for students, staff, and parents to bond and become a stronger community.

Ty Rawlinson our SGX trainer have been donating his time and services. We feel that it is very important to have a certified SGX trainer there to make sure that people are doing things correctly to prevent injury (through over two years of sessions, some with over 90 people, we have not had any injuries). Ty and his assistant have personally built and paid for obstacles for our students and staff to use: Up-and-over walls, traverse wall, hercules hoist, army crawl area, rope climb, etc. All of this has come at no cost to the school.  

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Jay Jackson

Jay Jackson has been a teacher and an assistant principal at Irvington High School for the past eleven years. Currently, he acts as a World History and Sports Psychology teacher. Before working in education, Mr. Jackson secured a bachelor's degree in psychology from Stanford University and a Masters of Arts in Education from Pacific Lutheran University. After graduating, he coached wrestling at Stanford University for seven seasons.

Along with working at Irvington, Mr. Jackson also works with Spartan Race on Spartan Edge, the company's educational offshoot. In this position, Mr. Jackson has helped to design a curriculum for schools and camps to get students to understand their personal ideas of concepts like delaying gratification, resilience and grit. For more information on Spartan Edge, please go to

Our Youth Leadership

Overcoming obstacles in life and in education


Class 2018

I am a junior at Irvington and I have been a part of Spartan training for a little over a year and a half now. There are several things that keep me coming back. The people you train with, including the coaches, are so encouraging and supportive. They help drive you through the strenuous workouts. As hard as they are, they are rewarding. Not only do I feel physically healthier and stronger, but I've gained a lot of confidence throughout the year. I enjoy testing my comfort zone and pushing through obstacles both in and out of Spartan.


Class 2017

I started Spartan Training last year as an extra credit opportunity in U.S. History class. The way my teacher described it sounded physically demanding. Flipping tires, climbing rope, throwing spears, and the list kept on going. People are reluctant to try new things; it's human instinct. When I went out for the first time, I couldn't climb a rope. I was frustrated and I wanted to get better at it. Spartan helped me to set goals that would give me a better challenge. Soon enough, the school year was over and something amazing happened. I kept going even after the school year ended. That's when I knew that I wanted to better myself personally, and not for a letter grade. I began taking on more difficult challenges, such as climbing 20 feet of rope. Not only does Spartan Training push you physically, but mentally as well. When you're tired and you have an obstacle in front of you, a person's natural reaction is to give up and quit. That's not what the Spartan mentality is. It taught me to take on obstacles head on, figuratively and literally. When I'm presented with an assignment in school, I hear whining. I'm not that person anymore. Now I want to figure out ways how to do my best on every assignment I get. My only regret about the Spartan Training program is not knowing about it sooner. Remember, it takes a lot of courage to take that first step. When that's achieved, you're now one step closer to your goal. It may not seem like much, but it adds up in the end.

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