Junior Dance course sacrifices full experience of class due to curriculum change


By: Hannah Ratcliffe '22

Junior Dance students’ assignments regarding physical and emotional goal-setting on Google Classroom.

Hannah Ratcliffe '22

COVID-19 and the required social distance requirements has affected an abundance of classes and sports at Staples High School, limiting students to what they can and cannot partake in. A majority of students can speak to these changes, as the entire gym curriculum has been modified since most students find themselves only participating in class once a week. While most gym classes are not highly affected by this change in curriculum, the Junior Dance course, taught by Staples High School physical education teacher Jennifer Mitteness, has suffered.

For the 2020-21 school year, a total of 105 juniors signed up for the Junior Dance course, not knowing how different the class would be. During the course’s first year of running during the 2019-20 school year, students were able to engage in dance-related activities for the entire gym period. However, the new curriculum for junior gym classes focuses on goal-setting to improve students’ physical, mental and emotional health.

“I think this curriculum is extremely meaningful given the stress the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many people,” Mitteness said. “It’s more important than ever that we learn how to positively impact our mental and physical health.”

Luckily, it’s not all bad news for the students who signed up due to their interest in dance. Mitteness is able to take students outside for a section of class in order to still incorporate dance into the new curriculum. Due to the mandatory mask policy, students are only permitted to take off their masks once they are distanced outside.

 “To ensure everyone is safe, we always wear masks while dancing indoors and traveling to our outdoor spaces,” Mitteness said. “Students are allowed to remove their masks while dancing as long as they’re 12 feet apart from the student next to them.” 

This outdoor activity gives students the opportunity to take a mask break while following social distancing protocols and still exercising during the school day. 

“It kinda sucks that we don’t get to dance for the entire class period,” Isabelle Ricks ’22 said, “but I think that Ms. Mitteness is doing a great job acclimating everyone to the new curriculum.” 

Whether students are learning the Cha-Cha Slide or creating meaningful goals to improve a significant aspect of their life, juniors will have to continue to adapt to this new curriculum and the challenges it creates in the future.