Middle School Scraps Year-Long PE

P.E. department makes curriculum changes to add flexibility to students’ schedules


   Every Trinity Prep student who has attended since middle school has one common memory: the P.E. swimming unit. Junior Ethan Cogdill described the experience as “voluntarily drowning yourself.” However, most students will no longer have to take part in swimming.

   Starting this year, middle schoolers do not have to take a full year of Physical Education. Instead, the requirement was shortened to just one semester, and students have new options to choose from. These new changes mean that many students can choose not to swim, or even opt out of running the infamous mile and pacer test. Instead, middle schoolers can take Team Sports, Lifetime and Leisure Sports, Camp Games, Yoga and Stress Management or a regular P.E. class. Middle School Principal Jason Dowdy explained that this change was made to bring more flexibility to the middle school schedule.

   “When you look at most of the middle school schedules for kids, they’re pretty set, and they don’t have a lot of choice there,” Dowdy said. “By taking the requirement to a semester, it just opened up some more options for kids.”

   Dowdy hopes that this will persuade students to pursue different interests such as performing arts and STEM more than middle schoolers have in the past.

   “If they had a passion for music, art, computer or whatever it is they want to do, then they can have those opportunities,” Dowdy said. “If you wanted to play in the orchestra, that was kind of tough to continue that through middle school because it took all of your elective options. It creates some openness in their schedule without making sacrifices.”

   Director of Learning and Instruction Dr. Stephanie Dryden said that she agrees that this is a fantastic opportunity for kids to explore new things.

   “It’s important to be exposed to things that you’re not sure you’re going to like, or if you’ve never had that possibility before, because discovering something that you enjoy is a really cool thing,” Dryden said.

   Another difference is that some P.E. classes are now co-ed. Dryden explained that in some classes, such as yoga, it’s perfectly fine for the class to be co-ed. Yoga has actually become a growing trend in American schools, as a federal study reports that over 5 million kids participate in yoga classes at school every year. Dowdy expects that the new yoga class will be a hit, and that the class will help reduce the stress and anxiety of middle schoolers.              

   Dowdy and Dryden hope that the curriculum changes will have little effect on the fitness of middle schoolers, as the majority of students are involved in athletics. Physical Education Department Chair Scott Sukup said that despite these changes, he hopes students will still choose to take P.E. for a whole year, even though the full year P.E. course is no longer offered.

   “It’s great for their fitness if students elect to take P.E. classes over other options,” Sukup said. “However, for those that might not want P.E., they now have options to diversify their schedules and do things like performing arts that they weren’t necessarily able to do.”