Every student at RHS has experienced a “run day,” the sugarcoated name that refers to a harsh day in a student’s week. In grades 9-12, students are obligated to participate in physical activity, as stated in the the New Jersey Core Curriculum Standards for Comprehensive Health and Physical Education Standards. The first mandate of these core standards states that “Health, Safety, and Physical Education (N.J.S.A.18A:35) requires all students in grades 1 through 12 participate in at least two and one-half hours of health, safety, and physical education in each school week,” (NJCCS 5). Assuming the schedule follows a regular school week, every student must have at least three hours of gym or health every week.
The standards that pertain to the high schools in NJ say, “All students will utilize safe, efficient, and effective movement to develop and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle” (NJCCS 21). Examples of activities that maintain this active lifestyle include “tennis, badminton, ping pong, racquetball” and “creative, cultural, social, and fitness dance.” However, running laps is not a state-mandated physical education requirement.
Run days are not explicitly stated in the NJCCS mandates. Therefore, rather than damper a student’s day, I propose that there should be other options for students to enhance their physical well being at school. Although some may like a nice, brisk jog in 85 degree heat, most of the student population would probably prefer to get in their exercise at another time.
The purpose of gym class is to encourage students to establish active lifestyles that they will follow throughout their lives, and Ridgewood High School provides a proficient amount of classes, such as Wellness, Activity, and Strength and Conditioning. Even though this is a good goal, it seems that many students would benefit more from team-based activities that encourage cooperation and which would allow students to get a much needed respite from a long school day. Physical activity is undoubtedly important, especially for high schoolers full of energy, but there are other options when it comes to high school gym class that would serve the same purpose yet would help promote the fun, enjoyable side of exercise.
Photo taken by Helen Cho