The Future of PE at Allderdice

Gym. Something every student at Allderdice has to take. Whether you finish the credits in 2 years or 4, you spend 246 hours of your high school experience in the gym—246 hours out of your busy life getting a physical education that will hopefully make you a healthier, happier person. And does it? Does having gym class multiple times every week impact students in a meaningful way, does it help compensate for the other 4,428 hours spent sitting at a desk? Or does it fall short, trapping students in a hot crowded room, aimlessly walking in circles until they hear a whistle blow?

Gym class can be viewed from two different perspectives: teachers and students. The teachers are getting paid to run the class and, according to teacher Michele Mastroianni, their goals are to, “make sure all students are moving and happy.” This year and in past years the gym teachers have tried to accomplish this by giving students the option to play sports or walk in circles, with the hope that more will participate if given a choice. But has the, “walking program,” as Mastroianni called it, improved gym class? 

Junior Danielle Sin is on the pro side. “I’m not a huge sports person. I like the walking option,” she explained. This is true for many students. They are much happier when given the choice to walk and would rather not be forced into playing sports. They can talk with friends, study for class, or listen to music, all while moving, to counterbalance the otherwise sedentary school day.

Madeline King

But on the other hand, some students find walking in circles monotonous and would prefer a more organized class. Senior Laura Brodkey is on that side of the debate. “I dislike that we walk in circles and [that] there’s no structure. It’s boring.” Students like her wish that gym teachers were more involved in gym, organizing games and rotating the sport every couple weeks. Currently most gym teachers stand around during gym and don’t engage in or oversee the activities going on. While some students enjoy the freedom this gives them to play volleyball or basketball casually with their friends, others are intimidated by the mad scramble to get a ball or are too nervous to ask to join a game with people they don’t know. This prevents them from engaging in sports activities, and they spend the period bored, leading them to dislike gym class. In the most extreme cases this can even give them a negative view of exercise. 

Thankfully, there is hope for everyone for gym class in the future. A happy medium could possibly be found by continuing the walking option but also making the sports section of gym class less of a free-for-all. This way no one would be forced into activities, and there would be a more inviting environment for students to try new sports they might not be very good at, or with people they don’t interact with everyday. Additionally, the staff hopes to add a dance or yoga program to the class in the second semester to cater to a wider variety of interests. 

But for the time being, since the gym teachers and the administration seem to be content with the overall current state of gym class, it will be up to students to let their gym teachers know what changes they want to see.