Create test-out option for P.E.

Junior Sara Anderson believes that hard work does pay off. Last year, Anderson won the beam and vault events at the state gymnastics meet. “I knew I had been working really hard all year for it. I knew that I could do it if I just relaxed and stayed focused,” she said. Junior William Rekemeyer, a cyclist, has a similar memory when his training came together. At a recent race in Iowa City, he won the first race of his career. “It was a lot of fun. [My team] caught the leader with a mile to go and I won in the last sprint. It was really exciting,” he said. Their successes were not achieved solely with their “natural gifts” or talent. Anderson and Rekemeyer spend hours training outside of school and weekends away from home at competitions in order to reach their goals and to get to the next level in their sport. Being a good athlete requires dedication and time, which leaves the student a limited amount of time to study for school. The school board’s recent discussion on making changes to start and release times and the talk about making 8th period an “activity period” and “block scheduling” got me thinking. Why can’t those who have an athletic lifestyle get credit towards a physical education class for their athletic endeavors outside of the school day? Anderson trains for gymnastics competitions for four hours a day, five nights a week, year-round. She is currently a member of the girls’ track team, and these track practices are in addition to her gymnastics practices. Anderson isn’t home until 8:30 p.m. most nights of the week, which leaves her little time to study for school. “I just have to balance my time and learn to plan ahead and not procrastinate,” she said. Rekemeyer practices six days a week, logging up to 50 miles a day, year-round. This leaves him only 30 minutes for studying on a school night. Anderson and Rekemeyer’s athletic lifestyles and physical abilities would qualify them as being “physically fit and active”, and yet they have to take P.E. while training outside of school. Anderson takes P.E. in the first semester, which overlaps with gymnastics. Rekemeyer doesn’t participate in high school sports, so he takes P.E. both semesters, which overlaps with cycling. When they are tested in physical education class, Anderson and Rekemeyer exceed the maximum amount of repetitions needed to pass. Actually, Anderson is the rumored female pull-up champion. Testing in P.E. should be turned into an opportunity where students who take P.E. while in an AHS sport and/or can prove that they’re doing physical activity outside of school can test out of the class, leaving needed time for studies. A potential test would include evaluating the components of fitness: cardiovascular endurance, body composition, muscle endurance, strength and flexibility. Standards would need to be set that establish a student as being “physically fit”. A student taking this test would have to meet these standards in all areas in order to pass the test and, therefore, test out of P.E.. After passing the test, the student would be required to keep a log of the amount of time spent doing physical activity outside of school. A coach’s or instructor’s signature would also be needed for conformation that the activity was completed. This log would prove that the student is maintaining physical fitness. Anderson described her feelings while in P.E. class as, “I knew that I could be doing homework and I’ll be [training] later anyway.” The state of Iowa’s physical education and health requirement’s website has developed a campaign titled “Let’s Move in School”. Its goal is that “youth will develop the knowledge, skills, and confidence to be physically active for a lifetime.” For students with athletic lifestyles, P.E. is redundant. They have developed and continue to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to maintain physical fitness while training outside of school. More study halls or even the option to take another class is what these students need. Allowing students the chance to test out of P.E. and giving the students who qualify as “physically fit” the opportunity for additional study halls or a class may help to improve their academic successes.