Gym Class Hero: 5th Grader Speaks Up About Budget Cuts

It is an unusual occasion to find a public school board contemplating between shortening gym for elementary school students as obesity rates are exponentially rising. But when times call for a budget cut, hardly anything goes untouched. Despite the debate, an even more rare instance is to see an elementary school student attend one of these meetings and nonetheless voice her opinion.


The proposed budget cuts called for shortening the gym time for students in grades 1-5. According to the Daily Westport, Eliot Landon said that this would allow more time in the classroom and it could save Westport around $140,000. The new schedule would cut up to 15 minutes per gym class and each student would only receive 30 minutes of gym, which is the same amount of time that a kindergarten student receives.


Not only has gym been the talk of the town, but middle school French is on the brink of a cut as well. This entire class is proposed to be saving about $25,000.


Even though both of these classes are at risk of being cut, it is apparent that gym receives more publicity. Fewer kids are concerned about French compared to gym as they feel that gym is “the perfect way to let out our stress and energy,” says Andrea Frost ’15.


A certain student, with similar beliefs of Frost ’15, was not going to let her opinions go unheard. Sophia Tricarico ‘22, a fifth grader at Coleytown Elementary School, went above and beyond and persuaded the entire town and the elaborate BOE to not let precious gym time wash away.


After Tricarico heard the news of gym tentatively being cut from her mother, she quickly jumped to try to find a solution.


“Well when I first heard that they were shortening PE time, I took a binder out and started writing notes and turned it into a speech,” said Tricarico.


With no hesitance, the speech was brought into her teacher and quickly made it to the CES morning announcements and in the blink of an eye Tricarico, all on her own, had conducted a successful petition containing 281 signatures to help her fight to keep gym the way it is.


Although Tricarico is fighting for a cause that doesn’t directly affect her, she feels for her friends ’ little brothers and sisters that they will not receive the full opportunity that she did.


Unique from all 5th graders, Tricarico had the confidence to present her speech at the BOE meeting on February 6th.  The points made by Tricarico were powerful and influential, as she was a firsthand source.


“[Shortening PE] It’s like shortening Spanish and music. It is very important to children and they have to get their energy out to learn better,” said Tricarico.


Her point was made clear and was now left in the hands of the BOE. Only Tricarico and her 281 followers can hope for the best.


With all of this being said, Tricarico would like to acknowledge that her experience would not have been possible without the support from her family.