A Makeover for Physical Education Classes

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Students play football outside during their gym period.

Plans for the reshuffling of physical education classes have finally been brought to life this fall. Instead of having all the grades together, the upperclassmen and the underclassmen students are now divided. Students have varying opinions on this new division.

For students, there are mixed feelings about the new separation. On one hand, some prefer the previous system because it allowed for students of all grades to mingle together and to make new friends outside of their age group. “I honestly liked how the classes were set up last year, because I actually had more friends older than me rather than the same age as me,” Hannah Seo ’19 said. “The only class that I had with some of my good friends was gym, but now, this year, our age gap makes it so that we have no classes together anymore.” Chelsea Wang ’17 agrees. “I made so many upperclassmen friends when I was a freshman and a sophomore, and I made so many freshman friends as a junior. Now that I am a senior and the classes are separated by grade, it is more difficult to make junior friends since everyone knows everyone already,” Wang said.

Yet many other students like the change. For Maya Orantes-Essimel ’16, the new division allows her to have spend more time with her friends who are of the same grade. “I prefer the new way, because a lot of my friends all share gym together, and we find it as another class where we can enjoy ourselves and be playfully competitive. The old way was much more awkward especially if you didn’t know a majority of the people in the class. You’d end up only talking to two or three new people the entire year and only hope to have free time to talk to friends who had the same gym period but a different teacher,” Orantes-Essimel said. Katherine Doss ’19 finds it helpful to be in a class where everyone is at the same level. “I’m not as skilled in some of the units as others, so it’s nice that the teacher can spend more time on explanations without feeling that they are boring everyone,” Doss said. “Explanations are more thorough this year, because my teacher doesn’t assume that we know everything already.”

“I can give more time and attention to the skills that students really need.”

As for the Physical Education teachers, Ms. Sisilli, who teaches underclassmen, finds separating gym classes by grade level to be extremely beneficial. “Before I had to squeeze so many concepts and skills into one unit, comprising a sport or activity. It was difficult to ensure proficiency in each individual student, because they were all starting at different levels of knowledge. Now I feel that because most of my students are beginning at or close to the same level, I can give more time and attention to the skills that students really need in order to become proficient in a specific sport or activity,” Ms. Sisilli said. Mr. Daughton, who now teaches upperclassmen, has implemented changes to better suit his older group of students. Rather than spending limited class time on going over the basics that his seniors and juniors are already familiar with, he places a greater emphasis on gameplay and on game plan. “The way that Mr. Daughton teaches now is much more targeted. He gives us more independence in class, as our exercises are self-conducted,” Nikhil Devraj ’17 said.

With the exception of a handful of students, everyone seems to be content with how physical education classes are now. Teachers can more easily tailor their lessons so that they better meet students’ needs, and students have more playtime with friends of the same grade. Nonetheless, the new system also makes it harder for students to meet new people outside of their age group. Despite these differences in opinion, however, the current setup is here to stay. Hopefully those who feel otherwise will see all the positives of the change and will eventually embrace it.

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