Originally published Nov. 26, 2021 by The Daily Journal.
By Clare Socolow
Physical education at Moorestown High School had to undergo serious changes to comply with the new COVID-19 requirement of social distancing.
Before the pandemic, gym class had units which focused on playing a sport. Throughout the year we had soccer units, volleyball units, badminton units, hockey units, and others which were also covered in all of our previous grades in Moorestown public schools.
In more recent years, in an effort to spread out students in a more socially distanced manner, students were able to choose if we want to play basketball, volleyball, badminton, or some other activity offered in the gym. Walking is also an option if a student does not want to participate in a game, and on sunny days, we can walk outside or play outdoor activities like frisbee.
Compared to how it used to be, I prefer the more recent modifications to gym class.
When I was in elementary and middle school, I didn’t have much of an issue with the way gym class was run. Though I was never a fan of some of the units like soccer and hockey, I found that I really enjoyed tennis, badminton, and other games. It was a good experience for me to be exposed to games and sports I’d never played before at a young age.
But once I had reached high school, my attitude changed. By the time students are in high school, we have already been exposed to all the different sports that were offered through middle and elementary school. I am 16 years old, and I don’t need another unit of soccer to confirm that I don’t like playing the sport.
For students who do like soccer, by the time they have reached high school they most likely already joined the school’s soccer team, a club team outside of school, or a team they created with their friends. What's the point in making gym students continue to play games that we already tried out before high school and found we dislike?
Instead of forcing students to replay sports we know we don’t like, some of the time we spend in gym class could instead be dedicated to learning how to use workout equipment, and how to make healthy and sustainable workout routines in our future.
Figuring out a workout routine that is a good fit for you is a very hard task. In middle school I remember briefly spending time in the weight room, where we would rotate after two minutes at stations with different equipment. I was only taught how to turn on and speed up the treadmill, not how to use all the other available functions that I could have applied to my workout routine early on.
We have four years of high school gym class and I believe part of that time should be spent preparing us for physical activity in college and adulthood. Isn’t that what high school is supposed to be about?
In today’s redesigned gym class, we have the freedom to choose to do whatever we want as long as we are active. Almost every gym period, two of my friends and I walk outside on the track and talk. It’s nice to have some time to just decompress while staying active, and I get to go outside. Going outside has been proven to be better for mental health, and for the first time since elementary school, I find myself looking forward to gym class.
The athletes who play volleyball and basketball on teams and actually enjoy it get to play those games in gym class, if that’s what they choose.
This new approach not only makes gym periods much more laid-back and fun, but also allows students to still be active while getting more fresh air. If these revisions to high school gym class remain after the pandemic has ended, not only would many more students enjoy their time in physical education, but they would also feel confident in their ability to be healthy as they go on to college and beyond.
Clare Socolow is a junior at Moorestown High School. She plays violin, is a longtime Girl Scout and in her free time enjoys writing, reading, drawing and painting.