Originally published May 8, 2023 in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
By Blythe Bernhard
Parking lots became fishing ponds and school gyms turned into roller rinks and bike tracks as physical education teachers got creative in local schools this spring.
“I think it’s pretty cool because you don’t have to be at a skating rink to skate,” said Wesley Teater, 10, after cruising around the gym on eight wheels at Premier Charter School in south St. Louis.
After a few years in and out of virtual learning during the pandemic, PE classes are back with new ways to get kids moving. Several schools like Premier have hired the national company Skatetime to bring the roller rink to the gym. For $11 per student, the company provided loaner skates and a curriculum for a three-week unit that teaches kids how to start, stop and even fall down safely on wheels.
Many of the students had never roller skated before, said Premier PE teacher Joanie Ryback.
At Long Elementary School in south St. Louis County, kindergartners and first graders spent a few weeks of PE this year on balance bikes. The local nonprofit Living Life on Two Wheels awarded grants to Long and another Lindbergh School District elementary, Dressel, for 24 bikes, helmets and a curriculum. Another Lindbergh school, Sappington, has a fishing unit where students learn to cast in the parking lot.
“It’s something that you wouldn’t expect from a PE program. These are memories being made,” said Long PE teacher Natalie Luna.