PE department raises the bar

September 8, 2009 — by Aanchal Mohan and Emily Williams

This year, the physical education department has decided to shift the focus of the PE program. Instead of the traditional team sport-based curriculum, the classes will focus primarily on promoting healthy lifestyles. 
 
“Our PE department felt that the original curriculum wasn’t an effective way of helping kids get into better shape,” said athletic director Peter Jordan. “We were looking for ways that we could promote fitness skills that [students] would be able to use outside of high school.” 

Thanks to a curriculum redesign grant from the district, Jordan and the rest of the PE department spent much of the summer creating with a plan that focuses on developing  skills that could be used in a gym, such as weight lifting, squats, push ups and pull-ups. They will also be focusing on combining these skills with gymnastics and aerobic exercise. 

“The class workouts are always varied, so there’s no routine and students are always challenged to do something new,” said Jordan, “Unfortunately there is a fairly long learning process in the beginning, especially when lifting weights.”

The class will spend the first six weeks strictly using PVC pipes to learn and practice proper form for exercises involving weights. They will also learn how to gauge their own fitness and document their improvements in a portfolio every six weeks.

“Unlike before, this course will be tailored to fit the student’s individual (fitness) needs,” said PE and world geography teacher Rick Ellis.
     
The changes, which include less team based sports and more individual fitness, are something the teachers believe it wholeheartedly.

“I have a really good feeling that this program is going to workout a lot better than last year’s curriculum,” said Ellis.
    
So far, students have displayed mixed feelings. Some students are welcoming the new direction with enthusiasm.

“I like this is better because [the program] actually helps us get in shape,” said sophomore Farnaz Ahmed. “Last year was more about learning the different sports and their rules.”

Other students see the new curriculum as even more work piling on top of busy schedules.
 
“I think the class seems like it going to be a lot more work than last year,” said sophomore Penelope Burgess.

Despite mixed reactions, Jordan hopes to expand the PE department and may even create an optional PE elective for upperclassmen, if the new program catches on. Students who have already completed their PE credits and want to continue to stay in shape may choose this elective.

“We can all imagine that four years from now every student in the school will know all the weight room vocabulary and have the skills to do the exercises,” said Jordan.

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