P.E. department awarded grant of about $900,000

Jane Levy, Staff Writer

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After applying for three of past four years, the Westport Physical Education Department received the Carol M. White Physical Education Program Grant for $936,000.

David Gusitch, the head of the Westport P.E. Department, describes their enduring desire and persistence in applying for this grant. “The application process is very extensive, but knowing the end result, the potential, the scope of the grant, we always felt that it was worth the time invested to apply for it,” Gusitch said.

Beaming with excitement for all that the P.E. department is capable of doing with the grant, Gusitch shares his goals for the future P.E. experience. “One of our goals is to make wellness more of a positive experience in a known commodity for not only students in Westport but their families as well, and with this grant we are able to provide a unique and more individual experience that is positive for all students,” Gusitch said.

With this grant, Gusitch said that, “We’re getting updated equipment, supplies, technology. We will be having professional development opportunities for staff, and this is for kindergarten through 12th grade, all eight schools.”

Along with these opportunities, the P.E. department hopes to also offer activities such as dance, yoga and Pilates for the P.E. classes. Westport’s waterfront community also opens up the opportunity to use stand up paddle boards and kayaks in the swimming experience at the high school. “We’re very excited to offer these activities to our students,” Gusitch said. “We want to offer experiences that are positive and unique, that students are really interested in pursuing.”

Shifting towards a program that focuses that focuses on the mind-body connection, Gusitch hopes that with this grant, the P.E. department can give students the opportunity to experience the mind and body connection, and use it to their advantage in their lives outside of class. “We’re focusing mind-body connection which is a big part of this grant and the wellness initiative for people to understand how important movement is in learning.”

Westport is one of two school districts in Connecticut to receive the grant and one of sixty who received it nationwide this year. Being so fortunate, Gusitch expresses the department’s utmost wishes for the P.E. program’s improvement. “We want to provide an experience that many other districts aren’t able to provide with the hope that students will be of interest in the improved program and that they’ll want to engage in these activities down the road as a life time activity.”

P.E. is transitioning towards a wellness type approach as opposed to the traditional physical education program implemented thus far.

“I think that it will ultimately speak to the value of a quality physical education experience for students,” said Gusitch. “We’re going to be able to do things that a regular P.E. program wouldn’t normally get to do and that’s very exciting. It gets the staff excited and we hope it’ll get the students excited about this experience, all that it’s going to offer them, and how we’re going to be able to evolve our program.”

Westport is so lucky to have received this grant, and there is no doubt that the PE department will use the grant to make Physical Education a fresh, unique, and memorable experience for students from the age of five-years-old to students who are eighteen.

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