P.E. Mandates Change

Will Richardson, Staff Writer

Sophomore Nainoa Azevedo walks up to the Miramonte track on a crisp Monday morning, getting ready for another day of PE.

“I’ve got a two hour lacrosse practice tonight until around 10 p.m.; running a mile is the last thing I should be doing right now. I hate to say it, but I don’t see the point in taking PE while playing a sport,” she said.

Right now across the Acalanes Union High School District, all sophomores must take PE all year, whether they play no sports or are participating in sports all three seasons. But this could change.

The possibility of instituting an independent PE program was a key issue at the Graduation Requirements Education Team meeting on March 16, which included some key members of the AUHSD.

Those included Educational Services Associate Superintendent Aida Glimme, Campolindo Principal John Walker, Acalanes Education Association (Teachers Union) President and Miramonte Teacher Nick Carpenter, Miramonte teacher Mike Plant, Head Counselor Lois Halls, and others.

But what exactly does this new policy entail? The current proposal is the possibility of students gaining an exemption from sophomore PE, should they participate in two years of the same California Interscholastic Federation sanctioned sport. This would satisfy graduation credit needed, and would only be permitted should the student pass five out of the six physical fitness tests. The hours would be signed off by the coach of the sports team, and monitored by the PE teachers, who would do this during a release period.

There was lively debate on the matter at the meeting, with many giving impassioned responses about what they felt would be best for the students, staff, and district as a whole; as everyone at the meeting agreed, the best interests of the students is the priority. Campolindo PE teacher Chris Walsh was among those that feel that the possibility of exemption is not a good idea, because of the increased possibility of injury brought about by shoehorning students into just one area of focus. Miramonte senior Thomas Hensley agrees: “Playing different sports in PE is great, and doing all this combined with running was good for everyone. Now, in sports medicine, I hear about all these students who are overworking areas of the body from just playing one sport. Being encouraged to play just one sport without diversity cannot be in the best interest for the students,” he said.

Miramonte Latin teacher Nick Carpenter also did not believe that allowing students to skip out of PE would be a great idea, instead arguing that it would simply lead to more academic stress. He believes that given the chance, most Miramonte sophomores would choose to take on another academic class, only piling on to the already significant workload most have. And when this suggestion was raised at the meeting, Glimme and other attendees suggested that students in this system would take either a non-academic elective or just drop to six periods.

The idea of not having PE in addition to an already busy schedule is certainly one which entices sophomore Mason Zimmerman. “Every day this spring I have lacrosse from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and most days I will not even get home before ten. If I could have no PE period and could spend more time either taking a class I am really interested in or spending time doing my homework, I would definitely go for that,” Zimmerman said.

The state of California offers flexibility in terms of possibilities of PE exemptions. Glimme’s former employer, Monte Vista, used a system similar to the one described above, and the California Educational Code allows for districts to determine just how they see students satisfying Physical Education credits.

Another Miramonte sophomore, Tyler Zwahlen, supports this proposal. “I have been playing basketball the past two years and have loved it. However, it is hard to have seven periods, practice, and then to do my homework afterwards. Having either six periods without PE or to have seven with another elective option in the place of PE would be great. It would help to reduce stress, especially for me, with winter finals right in the middle of the basketball season,” Zwahlen said.

Glimme met with the Physical Education department chairs of three of the four schools in the district recently. Miramonte was the only high school not present. There, the chairs from Campolindo, Acalanes, and Las Lomas all agreed that this policy would be good for students. One key concern, however, is the possibility of PE teachers losing their jobs, which could happen due to the popularity of sports in the district and the sudden decrease in demand for PE which would come about as a result of this policy.

One more concern over independent PE was brought up by senior Holly Bohuslav. “It’s also important to remember that playing sports and supplying the donations can be draining financially,” said Bohuslav, a four year member of the Varsity tennis team. “It looks great on paper, but in practice it could result in some unforeseen problems with finances, even in an affluent area like this.”

Finally, an interesting point was brought up by a member of the GREC: Why should there be an independent PE program, when there is no independent art, independent English, etc.?

This issue of PE exemptions will be discussed further in upcoming Graduation Requirements Education Team meetings and eventually decided by the school board and the superintendent.