Image Created by Melanie Duronio
Starting the next school year, new physical education courses will be offered to WA students. These include Basics of Kinesiology, Kinesiology of Team Games, Health Education, Empowerment and Goal Setting, and many more. Grades 10-12 will have their choice of any P.E. class and backup, just like deciding on any other course. Basics of Kine. is the exception, which will be a required class for grade 9.
Moving forward, grades 10-12 can no longer take the current P.E. model. Instead, they will be required to choose an option from the newly-developed course list.
Health and Wellness Coordinator Brian Roark also envisions that the new process will provide a smoother transition for incoming freshmen and be a more convenient method of education for upperclassmen. The system in place this year requires students to choose their activities on their first day in the gymnasium, which can be a hectic process.
“Everyone coming into the building will know what their course is [and its location], which alleviates potential anxieties about coming into the gymnasium and having to select a [P.E. course],” Roark said.
Additionally, the current P.E. activity sets are developed as a department in advance. Depending on the teacher or activity set that a student chooses, they may be participating in a few activities that they have no interest in. The new approach would give students more freedom to choose a course that appeals to them.
As for the P.E. teachers, knowing who their students are ahead of time rather than meeting them upon arrival, could provide an opportunity to develop relationships with said students.
“[With this new process], we’re setting students up to have a great physical education experience from day one,” Roark said.
Westford Academy’s P.E. teachers have been collaborating with Principal James Antonelli since the fall of 2021, keeping in mind the needs and desires of their students. They even reached out to other districts in Massachusetts to discuss the differences and similarities between their P.E. programs.
“It’s been an awesome process to talk to people in other districts […] as well as bring that new information back to WA and make something different,” Roark said. “I’m absolutely proud of what the department has done with these courses.”
Roark hopes these added courses will bring awareness to the differences between gym and physical education, and keep the terms from being used as synonyms. The gym is simply the room where physical education takes place, and is not the name of the class itself.
The goal of these new courses is to help students develop lifelong healthy habits to use for the remainder of their high school years and beyond.
Roark also emphasizes the importance of students’ “physical literacy”, which is the ability to move with competence and confidence in a wide range of physical activities and environments to benefit the healthy development of a person.
“We’re hoping that students will be able to grow their skills in these new courses, and build upon their physical literacy,” Roark said.
Overall, Roark is looking forward to the future of physical education and the possibilities that the new course schedule will bring.
“I’m hoping that students will find [these classes] to be beneficial and a nice change,” Roark said. “I’m looking forward to hearing the thoughts of our students.”