Health Team

Group proposes making gym an honors class

Posted May 19, 2010

— One out of every three North Carolina teenagers is overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet North Carolina high school students are only required to have one year of physical education.

At Enloe High School in Raleigh, freshmen spend about 47 minutes a day in gym class.

“A lot of my friends are really in shape and they have their sport that they do and eat healthy. But then, there are some of my friends that eat all the time and go home and watch TV,” freshman Emma Klein said.

Group proposes making gym an honors class Group proposes honors gym class

According to a study by the state Department of Public Instruction, 55 percent of high school students in North Carolina get less than the recommended 60 minutes of exercise five days a week, the level health experts say is needed to help ward off obesity

“I know students right now that have been diagnosed with diabetes,” Enloe physical education teacher Rebecca Clark said.

Clark said gym class offers students a chance to find at least one recreational activity they can do for life.

“We advocate cardiovascular endurance. We advocate flexibility. We advocate muscular endurance. We try to make sure kids are doing things within the classroom setting that’s also fun,” she said.

After freshman year, though, the interest in physical education often fades.

“They take only what’s required and the numbers drop off dramatically,” said Rob Morrow, with the North Carolina Alliance for Athletics, Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.

"No Child Left Behind actually impacted us, in the fact that it left physical education out of the core requirements," he said.

NCAAHPERD is a group of health and physical educators across the state proposing honors status for physical education in an attempt to attract college–bound students to the classes.

House Bill 901 would create an honors physical education course. It has already passed the House and is expected to be considered by the Senate during the current session of the General Assembly. If it passes, students could get honors credit for classes like exercise physiology or sports medicine. Students enrolling in these courses would also have a chance to boost their GPA by taking the course, because grades would be weighted on a 5-point scale instead of a traditional 4-point scale.

“We’re looking to put courses that are just as rigorous, just as relevant, to their overall lifestyle,” Clark said.

In Clark's classes, she said data is a good motivator. By measuring body mass index, students can see changes from the start of the school year.

“It’s a life commitment. It’s something you just don’t want to blow off because you only get the one body, one mind,” she said.

The North Carolina Alliance for Athletics, Health and Physical Education is partnering with the Department of Public Instruction on an obesity prevention program. It is for kindergarten through eighth grade.

Sixty-five school districts in North Carolina have the program, which is made possible through private grants. Wake County schools will start the program this fall. Organizers are hoping to extend it into high schools.


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  • samtripp May 25, 2010

    I agree, make PE mandatory all 4 years. Only in year 2, 3, 4 offer a variety of sports or rotate weeks. Kids need their 30 mins. a day even when they are older.

  • Kelondris May 24, 2010

    I had to take PE every year in high school in GA, so it must by a NC thing to only have it the freshman year. Maybe they should make it a mandatory class every year and then there would be no problem.

  • Raptor06 May 21, 2010

    I took PE every year while in high school. I firmly believe that a sound mind is dependent on a sound body...they are one in the same. No Child Left Behind is a political bureaucratic ploy that has left numerous children behind. Kudos to those willing to recognize the connection between the concept of a great mind and body. The military and corporate America have also made the connections. Engage!

  • mdsmks May 21, 2010

    Being healthy is a personal lifestyle choice and nothing the schools do can force kids to exercise and eat healthy if there is no personal motivation to do so and parental support at home.

  • hurricane04343 May 20, 2010

    I am split on this. I know lots of people who take a ton of gym classes, but complain that they are based on the 4.0 scale. Logically, it would make sense for them to be rewarded for doing what they are good at, but the problem is that school and GPA is supposed to represent academic progress, not physical progress. They tell me often they take the PE classes because they are easy A's and they aren't smart enough to take other classes. But I understand the reason why they want the advanced classes, because what they excel in is not academics, but rather physical activities. That is a flaw of the schooling system as well.

    I disagree with making PE a requirement each year. I only took PE my freshman year, yet I am in great physical shape because I play sports outside of class (not on a school team). Making me take a PE class would be taking away my chances of taking the more advanced classes that I want/need to take for my planned major in college.

  • mpheels May 20, 2010

    I agree with smartmissa - sports medicine and exercise/physiology are science classes, not PE. They may involve more physical activity than other science classes, but not that much. If high schools have the resources to offer sports medicine and physiology, they absolutely should, and the classes should be honors level. The material builds on basic biology, and requires extra though/work beyond basic science.

    I doubt offering such classes will increase activity though. For the most part, the kids that take them will already be active. The only way to really increase physical activity in all high school students is to require PE every year. Schools can do what my college did and count participation on an school sports team or other physical extracurricular activity (cheerleading, marching band) as meeting the annual PE requirement.

  • carolinaprincess62 May 20, 2010

    I think that a person who is trying to do well in school should not have to be subjected to something just because there are fat and lazy kids. And, not all schools have the sports medicine and those other advanced classes. They just have PE.

  • Ajay F.S. May 20, 2010

    Our local high school has advanced PE also, but I don't know how it ranks as far as being considered an advanced course. Advanced does not equal honors.

    Also, I think the biggest problem at our school are the pathways that the kids have to follow. The pathways are what really locks your schedule in and makes you have to take certain classes. I know my son has taken a couple of classes he felt were a waste of time, but he needed them to fulfill his pathway.

    So in other words, if they would relax the pathways or add advanced PE into the pathways, a lot more kids could consider taking it.

  • shortcake53 May 20, 2010

    So what is the big problem with having a well rounded kid who is doing well in school and also physically fit? I dont see a huge debate here. I guess some people will argue about anything.......

  • gingerlynn May 20, 2010

    my daughter has taken PE electives every year of high school. She has taken Team Sports I&II, Fitness for Life I&II, Weight training and advanced weight training. Oh and she is on the cross country team in the fall and softball in the spring. She has also taken AP and Honors classes. You can get more than one year of PE if you want it. The kids that NEED it will not sign up for this anyway.