Starters or Stumblers? Charter Schools Taking a Leap Forward
Ali McBride, Sports Editor
January 11, 2011
Filed under Green, Health & Science
Many Woodside students consider Physical Education to be a pointless class in high school. Students drag their feet over to the locker room, throw on a pair of baggy sweats and a T-shirt, and head to the gym where they proceed to lazily shoot hoops and converse about the gossip of the day. Little do they know that at the same moment students in charter schools are bound to a classroom all day.
The obesity rate has been on the rise over the past decade with the United States leading with over 30% of the population being overweight. California stands in one of the lower percentages with 20-24% of the population being obese. Richard Motylewski, a P.E. teacher at Woodside High School, says that “a good diet and physical activity is one of the best ways to prevent obesity.” If you work out every day for a full week and eat unhealthily, you will only lose a small amount of weight. By comparison ,you can lose almost twice as much weight in the same time if you couple a healthy diet with exercise.
Humans have understood the importance of health ever since the beginning of civilization. Farmers and hunters learned that they had to be fit in order to survive travelling long distances over mountains and deserts in search of food and shelter.
Ancient Greeks highly valued the fitness and beauty of the body. They celebrated having good health by holding the Olympics. The first gymnasiums were developed to give the athletes a chance to train before the games. Unfortunately, it seems that the majority of modern society does not value fitness and health.
Maintaining a wholesome diet and exercising regularly can lead to a long and healthy life. It can also help with academics and stress levels. Studies have shown that students who are physically fit receive higher test scores. These students were also shown to have experienced less feelings of depression and stress during their college years.
With exercise becoming less and less of a priority in today’s society, P.E. classes have become even more essential in preventing obesity. Although specific funding for P.E. classes is provided in public schools, charter schools focus on a no-frill curriculum, meaning that the usual luxuries in public schools are not included, such as gymnasiums, cafeterias, and sport teams. Most charter schools use the budget to upgrade the quality of their school and ensure their students a chance at being accepted to a four year college. This means that P.E. classes and sports are usually not funded in the curriculum and that the regular physical activity needed to have a healthy life is harder to obtain.
Summit Preparatory, located in Redwood City, California, is a different type of charter school in that they have integrated sports into their curriculum. Each year, Summit is given a small yet flexible budget to be used for academic purposes that aid the quality of the classes. With this small budget, most charter schools cannot afford sports. Summit however, has set aside a small amount to ensure that students not only have the opportunity to play high school sports, but also to excel in them. In the seven year history of the school, Summit has graduated six Division I college athletes.
Summit has taken a creative approach and has added a “100 hour” policy which requires that, throughout a school year, with the help of a school mentor, each student has to spend 100 hours doing some sort of physical activity. Todd Dickson, the principal at Summit, created this rule because he believes that “sports are an essential aspect of growing up.”
One way charter students can achieve these hours is through a program called Intersession. Intersession is held at Summit in January and June and give students the opportunity to take their required electives. Summit offers opportunities like a fitness and health class, martial arts, and indoor soccer which count toward the required 100 hours of exercise.
Because Intersession is not enough to complete the hours, Summit also offers seven different extracurricular sports with 10 teams, six of which are varsity teams, through the Peninsula Small School Athletics program. Students can choose between soccer, basketball, baseball, ultimate frisbee, badminton, volleyball, and softball.
Summit is located in an industrial area, so there are no on-campus sports facilities. Instead, they use fields from schools in the Sequoia Union High School District and offer a free membership to the nearby Riekes Center, a work out facility. Students can visit the Riekes Center at any time after school and it allows them an easy and free way to gain the required hours without being on a school team.
Kyle Larsen, a freshman at Summit, approves of this policy. “I like not having P.E. because it is kind of a waste of time,” he explains. “Because we just focus on regular classes, the teachers and [the students] aren’t rushed during class.”
Summit is revolutionizing the idea of the “charter school.” With this new sports program, created from a shoe-string budget, students still get the education they deserve and are also able to enjoy participating in the sports they love.
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