Missing Gym Is Not A Vacation

Zoe Brown, Staff Writer

Being exempt from gym class for an extended amount of time is the everlasting hope, dream and goal of many Staples students.

But does it really live up to its expectations?

I can assure you that, due to the newly developed guidelines for gym credit requirements this year, being out of gym for over 10 days is simply not worth it. For those of you who try to get out of swimming, I strongly advise against it because wet hair is much easier to deal with than reading books about health and writing essays or anything of the sort.

Because of a difficult long-term illness, I haven’t been able to participate in gym for the entire first quarter. When I first realized that I’d be granted a hiatus from sprinting to math class soaking wet after swimming, or struggling to pull on my jeans after sweating from running the dreaded mile, I was ecstatic. Something positive had finally come from my being sick!

But after the first gym class this year, I felt differently.

The 10 day rule has always been in effect but it was decided this year that it would be strictly enforced because it was noticed that students were not fulfilling the three gym credits necessary for graduating.

This rule states that if students are not able to take part in gym class for more than 10 days in a quarter, they must  take an alternate assignment or make up the missed physical education classes at another time, such as over the summer, during a free period later in the year, or during senior year.

Honestly, who in their right mind would rather be in school running laps, doing push-ups, or playing good ol’ badminton, than soaking up the sun’s beautiful rays during summer vacation? That would be complete and utter insanity.

So, when given the option, I decided to tackle the alternate assignment. After all, how much effort was a physical education teacher really going to put into choosing a project for an injured student to complete?

The devastating answer: more than you would ever think.

For my alternate assignment, due at the end of the quarter, I have to:

(1) Choose a book about a topic relative to exercise or health.

(2) After every 25 pages in the book, record my thoughts, reactions, and questions about the reading.

(3) Write a report (minimum of four pages) answering questions about the book and my opinion on it.

(4) Make a poster illustrating the book’s health related topic.

Dave Gusitch, head of the Phys. Ed. Department, recommended I read the bookSpark” by John J. Ratey and, not wanting to spend time picking out a book myself, I just took his advice.

You can imagine how thrilling it is to force myself to read this book about the effects of exercise on the brain.

“Wow, I can’t believe I’m so lucky. I get to be sick AND read and write a report AND do a project on this amazingly interesting book!”

Although the gym teachers don’t see it this way, I think it would be reasonable to say that I am being penalized for being sick. I can tell you in a second, I would rather be healthy and able to participate in gym, but because I’m not, I have to do a huge project on top of my other massive quantities of schoolwork!

Aside from adding an unnecessary load to my already massive pile of schoolwork for academic classes, this assignment gives me a feeling that writing is being used as a punishment.

Since I am a fan of writing, it angers me greatly to see this aggravating assignment giving the wonderful art of writing a bad name.

I even think that the stress that this project is causing me is furthering my sickness. Ironic? I think so.

There is one positive outcome of reading this book and doing this assignment, though.

Whenever it’s time to go to sleep, and I’m not yet tired enough to crash, I just pull out “Spark” and try for the hundredth time to get past the first 15 pages.