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Upperclassmen Gym Shortened to One Quarter: Hot or Not?

Photo Courtesy of Ashley Aron

Ashley Aron

Photo Courtesy of Ashley Aron

Ashley Aron, Editor-In-Chief

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In her welcome back letter, Principal Lisa Deorio says that juniors and seniors would only have one quarter, not a full semester, of physical education this year. She says it was a change “approved by the Board of Education in the spring” to “provide upperclassmen with additional time during the year,” as “Weston High School surpassed the state mandated requirement for physical education.” I personally was ecstatic to see that junior and senior gym would be shortened to one quarter this year. I was worried about having enough free periods to focus on college applications, but I didn’t want to have to drop any important classes just for a free period. After reading Mrs. Deorio’s letter, however, I appreciated knowing that our struggles to balance school life with college or standardized testing were finally being acknowledged. Do other Weston High School students agree?

Francesca Moniz ‘18, says that she was “pleasantly surprised” to see the new schedule change. She says she “really needs more frees this year” because senior high school work can be “overwhelming and time consuming.” She says she always thought having gym for a full semester was “unnecessary” because she participates in sports at WHS.

Safa Vohra ‘18 says that the timing of this decision is actually perfect considering that we are seniors this year and we need an extra free to help us/give us more time to submit everything.

“I was very happy when I found out gym would only be one quarter!” says Catrin Zharyy ‘19. “I like that I have a guaranteed free period for the two quarters in between gym and health because I can always use more time to work on schoolwork, and I’m sure everyone else can too.”

Adam Frederiksen ‘18 says that he didn’t find this change “too surprising” because of how many students complained about having gym when they played sports after school. He says he’s “heard of other schools making similar moves to appease athletes and cut unnecessary costs. It helps open-up schedules and provide students time to relax, utilize open campus, or cram for that test you have next period.”

“I didn’t think that gym was necessary for the whole semester because during the fall I play two hours of soccer everyday. I felt it was excessive,” says Grace Batcha ‘19.

Sara Eiler ‘18 says “Oh boy, where do I start. I love having the extra time to do homework–I’m usually really busy studying so that truly is a plus for me. Having only one quarter of gym honestly saves so much time in that sense. I’m also pretty glad that I don’t have to spend more time in the locker room than I need to.” Haley Lubliner ‘18 says “the entire thing kinda took me by surprise and I won’t really know what to make of it until I experience it for myself.”

She said she “knew the student government was trying to get the athletes to not have gym, so maybe this was a compromise.” However, she “wondered how this would affect scheduling.”

Jane Avery ‘19 says she “was also a little skeptical at first, because throughout our years here there have been a lot of rumors of certain things changing that have never happened.”

Students feel shortening gym to gain an extra free period was something they had been wanting for a long time.

Edelman says that “it is about time that gym is reduced to one quarter. Health class is only a quarter class so why hasn’t it been this way all this time for gym too?”

Jane Avery ‘19 says that “two quarters of gym felt unnecessarily long, and bland–especially near the end of the second quarter.” She says that as a freshman and a sophomore, “the activities seemed well planned out, and were popular with mostly everyone in each class” but during the second quarter, “the teachers were running out of sports to keep us occupied with as the end of the school year approached, and at one point walking the baseball field or track was what we did for several class periods.”

Frederiksen says, however, that to him “it never really mattered” because he dropped gym on days he had ski team practice or a game after school. However, he says that he’s “sure a significant number of students will feel it’s been long-overdue.”

Vohra says that “we are seniors this year and we need an extra free to give us more time to submit everything. It’s definitely a change long-overdue because the seniors in the past probably also needed it when they were in the college application process.”

Eiler has a different view on gym as a sport. “While I recognize the values of healthy living and exercise, I also recognize that I am not, in fact, a sports person. Gym was never really my favorite class, and I thought there were better ways I could be utilizing my time.”

“You might say one quarter of gym is not enough, but who says that’s the only exercise a person gets?” says Zharyy in agreeance. “Someone’s health is their responsibility, and I think the most important way a school can ensure its students stay healthy is to teach the importance of health and strategies to make time for keeping up your physical and mental health.”

However, Lubliner says that she “never minded having gym for two quarters, it was normal. Some of the units were boring but for the most part I enjoyed a lot of what we did.”

Safa Vohra ‘18 says she “didn’t mind having it for one semester considering that before we even got to the high school, we had gym for a full year!”

When asked if it was a smart decision to shorten junior gym as well, Moniz said “yes, junior year can be extremely busy for students at Weston High School.”

“Why not?” Frederiksen says. “I think everyone who plays sports after school will benefit from the move.”

“I think regular high school is hard enough,” says Edelman, “but it is more stressful for us upperclassmen, especially juniors who have to prepare for SATs and or ACTs.” Therefore, he believes it is most important that juniors have only one quarter of gym as well, but that it would “a little unnecessary for freshman and sophomores to also have this extra time for work.”

“Juniors can definitely make better use of that time. We need that time to catch up on our other classes but I don’t think that sophomores and freshman have as demanding classes as the juniors do and might not need the extra quarter as much as upperclassmen do,” says Batcha.

Lubliner says that she initially thought everyone would have shortened gym, and she thinks that “everyone should probably have shortened gym to keep things fair.”

Avery agrees that “all grades deserve extra time to complete their work.” She says that “a lot of people in each grade participate in school sports or clubs, which eat into your time for homework each day” and that “ those athletes or club members without a quiet study or free are at a disadvantage.”

“I think having extra time for work is useful for everyone, no matter what grade they’re in. Since there is a lot of variety among people’s course loads, it shouldn’t be so easy for the administration to generalize how much work the students in each grade have and I think it’s unfair to say one entire grade has less work than another,” says Zharyy.

However, Vohra says that she thinks juniors should have gym as a way to cope with their stress. “Even though junior year is the most stressful year yet, they need to be able to have one period where they can let everything out and redeem themselves to go back to class feeling energized and ready to work.”

Eiler says, “Maybe I’m a little biased as a senior, but I had to do two quarters of gym as a junior so I’m somewhat frazzled that I’ll have had to do more gym classes than any other incoming grade.” She joked that maybe seniors could have the option to exclude gym completely to make up for the imbalance in physical education, but added that she “seriously wouldn’t mind.”

By changing gym to one quarter, this means less physical education instruction even though Weston meets the state physical education requirement, and those who do not play sports can miss out on being active. However, most students at WHS believe that changing gym to one quarter is more beneficial than not.

“I think students can learn enough about physical education in one quarter,” says Moniz.

“I think having physical activity is very important so I’m glad that they didn’t cut it out all the way but instead just took out one quarter,” says Vohra.

Lubliner says that “it’s hard to say if one quarter is enough.” She says she “really enjoyed a lot of the units and would be disappointed if we didn’t get to do the ones that everyone likes.” However, she says that “if we get to pick which units we do, one quarter should be enough, but we won’t know until the year plays out.”

“I think if students exercise after school and stay active throughout the school week it’ll be okay,” says Frederiksen. However, he also expresses his concern. “Unfortunately some students’ primary exercise is gym, which isn’t very healthy.”

Edelman says that he “never really liked gym” but it was “one of [his] only forms of exercise in high school because there is no recess.” However, he says that “gym for one quarter is enough and that’s how long it should always be.” “The fact that the decision got made eventually satisfies me, and cutting down two quarters to one quarter of a state required class seems like it would be quite a complicated process, so I can understand why it took our administration so long to sort out,” says Avery.

“The decision was timed well for me because I get to take advantage of gym being one quarter for two years,” says Batcha.

“Even though I wasn’t able to experience this change as a junior, I’m just grateful to be experiencing it at all,” says Eiler.

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Upperclassmen Gym Shortened to One Quarter: Hot or Not?