Originally published July 24, 2018 in the Olean Times Herald.
By Danny Ciamprone
At the height of the digital age, many believed technology would impede movement. Computers supported a more sedentary lifestyle in the workplace, and ridesharing apps dramatically improved the convenience of transportation, thus decreasing the need to walk reasonable distances.
But as technology further evolves, so too does its influence on encouraging healthy lifestyles, such as the case of smartwatches and activity trackers. Now, Seneca Valley Academy of Choice is at the forefront of the next revolution in technology education when it comes to encouraging healthy lifestyles for students. While online education courses are nothing new, the concept of cyber physical education is a foreign concept for many.
“Seneca Valley does a very nice job of promoting the health and wellness of lifetime activities for each student, and it’s reminding students and teaching students the importance of living a healthy lifestyle,” says James Pyle, a teacher for both cyber and traditional physical education at the academy. “As long as students can identify at least one or two activities they really enjoy that they may want to carry on the rest of their lives, then that’s really what we’re looking at and that’s one thing that cyber does. It might get that person to get into tennis outside of school and they carry that on or go to the YMCA. If we can get them to where they want to be with being physically active, then it benefits everybody.”
Having started the Seneca Valley cyber program in 2007, the initiative now serves more than 1,000 students from kindergarten through twelfth grade as an alternative to enhance their educational experience. Students can join the education programs part-time, full-time or combine both traditional education with cyber education in their curriculum.
“I think the inspiration was trying to provide choice, flexibility and opportunity for students so that they didn’t have to look at other schools so that all students had the opportunity within Seneca Valley to meet their individual needs,” says Principal Denise Manganello.
There are now cyber labs open in every building of the district staffed with support to help students with their online courses, Manganello says. By doing so, that creates more flexibility and opportunity so that students can take as many courses as they like. It also opens up opportunities to take more electives that wouldn’t fit their schedules if they didn’t have the online option.