Turning the Physical Education credit into an opportunity

Lucia Rivera, Editor-at-Large

For many students, physical education class can be dreaded, and seen as time poorly spent doing unenjoyable activities every day in the hot sun. However, through activities that are more engaging to these students, like aquatic sports, meditative yoga, guided sports and various other forms of physical activity students could instead have a class to look forward to and thrive in. While Bonita Vista High (BVH) may offer more than general Physical Education (PE) classes to certain students, many would greatly benefit from the addition of more PE opportunities that students will be excited to partake in.

The fact that physical activity is required throughout childhood and life for maximum health is generally agreed upon, and, according to the American Heart Association’s “Voices for Healthy Kids,” over 50 percent of high school students attend PE classes once a week. Unfortunately, they also reported that although most students find PE enjoyable, only 23 percent of students felt PE helped them become better versions of themselves. This means that barely one fifth of students feel that the PE classes, which students are required to take in many states, including here in California, help them improve as students.This concerning problem could be countered through more varied, personalized and engaging PE classes that span beyond the traditional mix of cardiovascular exercise and team sports.

One example of this idea put into play in a San Diego high school is in Helix Charter High School’s (HCHS) course catalog. While HCHS does require traditional PE for half a semester, for a second semester a student has the choice to take “individual sports” instead, which includes activities like swimming and first-aid, according to the HCHS website.

It is true that BVH has other options like PE Dance, Vocal Music Department courses, Band Cadet and Band Concert, but those courses are only available for a students’ second year of PE, while some schools, like the Academy of Our Lady of Peace (OLP) in San Diego, allow more diverse PE options to be available for all grades. One example of a more personalized PE option at OLP is an “Independent Physical Education” course which presents students the option to be “on an OLP sports team for one season in grades 10, 11, and/or 12, and participating on a sports team or individual sport not offered at OLP with a minimum of six hours of active participation per week” to receive credit for their PE requirement, according to OLP’s website. 

An opportunity such as this at BVH would allow for students to maximize their time doing an activity they are passionate about. This also would give students an opportunity to use the extra period in their schedule to take another class that could help them enrich their educational experience. This could be a course that ties to their intended major or a course that helps raise their Grade Point Average (GPA). Moreover, as Livestrong.com reports, participating in a sport in high school helps increase student success in class. 

This independent option is just one of the many that OLP offers its students. OLP students can also take two different yoga courses, two kinesiology dance classes, and an “Adventure Fitness” class. 

“Fitness doesn’t just happen inside a gym; students will also have the opportunity to participate in a variety of field trips which may include: rock climbing, hiking, trampoline aerobics, spin, beach training, obstacle course training, kayaking or other popular fitness activities. The course will also focus on expanding students’ knowledge regarding muscular strength/endurance, flexibility, core fitness, nutrition, and body composition,” OLP states on their website, regarding their “Adventure Fitness” course.

The additional benefits of unique PE classes are also found in PE yoga courses. Megan Carroll, in her article “The Role of Yoga in Physical Education” published by YogaEd, wrote that, “yoga helps students develop concrete tools that empower them to take charge of their own health, not just to excel on the field. They learn to observe their needs and their environment, and get intentional about how they feed, move, and respect their bodies for the long-term.” Therefore, yoga could be a healthy activity for many growing and stressed students.

Overall, students could become much more rewarded through PE class if students were able to make the choice to pursue a physical activity they enjoy, whether that be a sport they would be pursuing anyway, or an activity like trampoline aerobics that they would never have learned about otherwise. High schools should offer opportunities that best benefit the students, in all aspects of their education.