A new approach to traditional P.E.

By Deanna Wakkinen, I-O Reporter

With overweight and obese youth patrolling the halls of our schools in intensifying numbers, people have begun to rethink many aspects of physical education.

Traditional P.E. might have included dodgeball and lines of students for the team coach to pick their members one by one. This pastime technique often left the ‘last to be picked’ student who was feared to cause the team the game.

‘The new P.E.’, as it has been deemed, now offers a slight alternative to the traditional. Most P.E. educators now have a mission not to center activities around competition but instead on total body fitness.

With competition out of the spotlight, all can join in and get moving for their own health. This new program is around to target all students, not just those who may be naturally athletic.

New techniques and challenges hope to stimulate your mind and body and give you a lifelong love for activity and fitness.

Joe Moerkerke, CHS P.E. teacher, strives for his students to have maximum participation, fitness and an understanding of why fitness is important.

Competitive games are still in the Conrad curriculum but Moerkerke also includes individualized activities such as Taebo, weight lifting and biking. He stated that he would also like to incorporate archery and was able to introduce a ski day at Teton Pass before Christmas break.

When surveyed, out of 23 CHS students, most students revealed they enjoy participating in P.E. and that they also participate in fitness outside of it. They also listed their current favorite activity in P.E. and most mentioned sports like basketball and volleyball. Dodgeball was also listed by over 20 percent of the respondents. Students were split on their response when asked if they prefer competitive sports or individualized activities.

Although Conrad may not have the student numbers or the financial ability for it, a new program caught my eye. It is called Skate Pass.

Skate Pass incorporates skateboarding, a popular individual sport, into gym. The standardized curriculum comes from Boulder, Colo. which as of 2010 has been approved in 500 schools in 31 states and Canada, Germany, Singapore and the Dominican Republic.

Eric Klassen is a founder and longtime skater. Klassen said skateboarding has gained broader acceptance in schools as teachers look for innovative ways for students to get fit. “There’s a global recognition for kids to get healthier,” he said.

Skate Pass began in Colorado schools and expanded to the national level in 2006.

“We had to prove that everyone could do it, and that it was safe,” Klassen said.

The program costs schools approximately $3,000, depending on options, and includes 20 complete boards, full pads, helmets, a curriculum and instructional DVD.

Although we may not have the resources needed to expand to all sports and programs offered, Conrad still provides much needed diversity and fitness to its students.