Originally published Jan. 4, 2018 by KOTA News

By Ren Clayton

“We’re doing cross country skiing right now,” said Spearfish eighth grader Will Becker. “Some of these sports are really cool and they’re fun to do.”

P.E. class at Spearfish Middle School looks different than many other places. The three-teacher staff organizes activities like slack lining and orienteering.

“It was fun,” said another Spartan eighth grader, Jonathan Bloom. “We had a GPS and walked around the park and did a lot of activity stuff.”

every dayThose activities aren’t the most unique part of the Physical Education program at Spearfish Middle. They’re the result of it.

“Every-day P.E. it allows us to do those extra things,” said one of the schools three P.E. teachers, Ryan Lee.

Every school day of every semester, the sixth through eighth grade Spartans have P.E. class. Only two other middle schools in South Dakota can say the same.

National pressure sometimes emphasizes math and science and other subjects above P.E. That can make it tough to fund.

“Every student gets at least three choices of Encore throughout the year and every student gets P.E.,” said Spearfish Middle School Principal Don Lyon. “So I think it’s just a win-win for everybody. Nobody here has ever said that’s not important.”

“I just don’t think they’re valued,” said P.E. teacher Alex Johnsen. “Which is sad. They told us that at school. Push for yourself, advocate for yourself, cuz not many will. I came here, and that wasn’t the case.”

If it ain’t broke, why change? It’s always been this way for Spearfish. Every day P.E. classes has repeated support.

“Our school decided as a core group that P.E. was what we call a non-negotiable,” said Lyon. “They’ll be P.E. every day for every kid and I don’t know many schools that would vote that way that, yep, that’s what we’re doing.”

“Just the opportunity to see the kids every day, you know where the kids left off at, you know what you taught them,” said Lee.

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