In February 2017, Registrar Lyse Herrera unveiled a new plan for scheduling PE, introducing year-long PE class for freshmen and juniors and semesters of Health for sophomores and seniors. This new program was effective starting in the 2017-2018 school year for all grades, except the current senior class.
While only implemented this school year, the idea of switching the PE scheduling to a semester system first arose over six years ago, prior to Physical Education Department Chair Jenn Johnson taking the reins of the department.
“We have had the idea [to make the switch],” Johnson said. “We definitely had buy in from [Head of Upper School] Mr. Murray and [Assistant Head of School] Ms. Lowry to sit with us and understand what we were going through with the three systems. Once they were on board it was easy to get support.”
The idea of aligning the department with that of the rest of the Upper School appealed to Johnson, ultimately being the reason to make the switch.
“We were the only department that were on quarters and because of our sports systems and giving credit for athletics, we were essentially on three systems,” Johnson said. “We wanted to be more aligned with the rest of the school.”
In order to make the new program work properly, Johnson, Murray and Herrera met to ensure that it would work in the scheduling system.
“I sat down with Mr. Murray and Coach Johnson to discuss how that might affect with changes with the schedule, so would it work within the schedule,” Herrera said. “My role was to make sure that we could make it work in the schedule and that we could hopefully make it even so that classes would not be super huge one semester and not the other.”
Ultimately, Herrera and Johnson found a way to make the semester system effectively work within the current Upper School schedule.
They planned for the freshmen and the juniors to participate in a full year of PE, which allows for the students in these grades to more easily double up on Fine Arts through receiving PE credit with dance.
As the program fully rolls out during the 2018-2019 school year, the sophomores and seniors will partake in semester health classes with the culminating Self-Defense class in the senior year. Since this school year represents the transition year, the sophomores have gained an extra free quarter where the second half of health will be next year.
“The PE and Health schedule is by semesters now, but they are grandfathering us in, so everyone in my grade gets an extra free period, even if we are not in sports,” sophomore Isabel Schaffer said. “I like it because of being able to take advantage of my extra time.”
No changes were made to the senior’s scheduling as the current senior class has completed three out of four of the health classes required to graduate.
“[Currently] it is a little different for seniors because seniors are not blocked to PE,” Herrera said. “For next year when we are teaming Self-Defense up with the other quarter of health that will have to affect senior PE scheduling and we will have to talk through that a little bit more.”
As the program continues to roll out in the 2018-2019 school year, and the entire Upper School participates in the new schedule, Johnson is still planning the next step for next school year.
We never wanted to just blend Health I and Health II and then Health III and Health IV. The health classes are what we need to figure this year,” Johnson said. “We knew it was important to keep the self-defense in the senior year, and we just need to figure out how to blend what else we need seniors to know.”
Katie O’Meara – News Editor