Summer physical education program works to clear up students’ schedules

Summer physical education program works to clear up students’ schedules

By: Nicky Brown ’19 and Amanda Kaplowitz ’19

Students that are looking for a way to stay active over the summer and open up their schedules for the upcoming school year can participate in the Staples summer PE Program. Physical education teacher, Christopher J. (CJ) Shamas, with the help of his colleague, Jennifer Mitteness, offers a three-week summer program where kids go to school for two hours a day and fulfill a quarter of their full year gym credit.

This year’s program has two sessions. The first session takes place from June 26 to July 13 and the second session takes place from July 17 to August 3. The course starts at 8:00 a.m. each morning, and runs until 10:15 a.m.. The program is available for students entering grades 10, 11 and 12.

During week one, the students participate in archery, land paddling, in-line skating and other lifetime and cooperative activities.

“We try to take a broad stroke on offerings that students would typically get during the year, but offerings that are conducive to our group,” Shamas said. He continued to explain that,  “There is also a component in week one where we look at national standards for physical education and the grade level outcomes associated with those standards.”

Then, during week two, the students go out into the Westport community and according to the Westport Continuing Education website, “will engage in meaningful off-campus experiences including community based opportunities aligned with national physical education standards and outcomes.”

Finally, the group reconvenes during week three and the students share and discuss their experiences and expertise from their off-campus excursions with each other.

This blended course is a new approach to the pre-existing program. Westport Continuing Education, Principal James D’amico and the gym teachers worked to redesign the program.

“Mr. D’Amico, at one of the early faculty meetings of this year, spoke of blended learning. I took what he was saying and thought that it could be applicable in our summer physical education class. So, with the support of the director of Continuing Education, I was able to move this forward as a piloted program,” Shamas said.

Students that opt to attend this summer program do so for various reasons. However, the most common reason that it appeals to kids is because they can either take a class that could not fit in their schedule or have a free period instead.

“I’m doing it because I want to take both an extra class and have a free period […] I’m looking forward to having a more relaxed class, being able to free up more time for junior year and getting gym out of the way,” Kate McCrohan ’19 said.

With only eight periods in a day, and dozens of courses offered to students, opening up a period can be a major advantage to students who want to take an additional class.

“I chose to partake in this program so I could take both a cappella choir and directing. It helped a lot for my AP work,” Allie Bowlin ’18, who participated in the program last summer, said.

“The kids that are best served by this program are […] kids that have constraints with their schedule. They want to take any additional course, but they’re limited with our schedule. By meeting the physical education requirement during the summer, it frees up part of their schedule throughout the year,” Shamas said.

Another point of interest regarding the program is the highly priced fee that students must pay to participate. The $330 may seem like an expensive price to pay for some students especially since gym is offered free of charge throughout the school year.

“I think that it is the standard with credited courses that are offered over the summer. So if you were taking a credited chemistry class, it’s the same thing. If there is a financial constraint and a student wants to take it, I’d always suggest speaking to the guidance counselor,” Shamas said.

Another gym program that Staples offers is the Learning Readiness Physical Education, or LRPE program. This program is for students to go in early before school and take part in many different activities including, team sports and team building exercises. The program meets four times a week and is from 6:30 a.m. to 7:15 a.m.

“The objective of the program is to enhance student learning in academic classes by having students exercise before they attend these classes,” physical education teacher, Michael Caetano said.

Students that attend this program must be committed and attend every week for the duration of the program. However, the students that participate in this do not receive any gym credit, unlike the summer option.

“I think receiving gym credits for the program would not only benefit students with busy schedules, but could also shed light on the program. It’s a win-win solution,” Jack Breeden ’17 said.

While the early morning program and the summer program differ, the objectives of both seem to be similar. Students are staying active and learning collaborative skills. However, one of the popular reasons people do the summer program is that it offers them a good opportunity to open up their busy schedules for the upcoming school year.