Student Government to Change Gym Makeup Requirement

By Fatima Farha

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In order to address some concerns from students and parents, Niles West’s Student Government is attempting to change the requirement for gym make-ups, something that has been a rule for many years if a student has missed a P.E. class period.

Up until a year ago, it was required for students to go to the cardio lab and work for at least 30 minutes in order to make up a gym class that they missed, whether it was a cardio lab day, or just a regular P.E. day. A cardio lab day is when students work out in the cardio lab with heart rate monitors that keep track of each student’s heart rate, respectively. Each gym class requires this at least once a week, and for most classes, the performance is graded very heavily and can be detrimental to a student’s grade if he or she happens to miss a cardio day.

According to the Director of Physical Welfare, Joaquin Stephenson, this year the requirement was changed. Instead of only going to the cardio lab to make up a missed P.E. class period, students may also attend another gym class during their own free periods, go to Early Bird strength and conditioning, work out in the weight room, or work out an alternate arrangement with their teachers.

“[We have given] these many options for students to make up gym. We’re not as stringent anymore and there are many more opportunities now,” Stephenson said, “We were given a directive to allow students the opportunity to make up what they missed [and] streamline what they missed with what they have to make up.”

However, students are not happy about making up gym. According to Student Government vice president, senior Stephanie Knorr, there have been complaints from students who do not wish to make up a gym period. The gym make-up requirement is for students who had an excused absence, and because it was an excused absence, many students feel that it doesn’t make any sense because they do not have to make an English class or a Math class when they miss it.

“We have heard about the issue of making up gym days from student complaints. On one side, gym is a lab grade, and you can miss some days without dropping a letter grade. On the other hand, if you miss a math class, you don’t have to make up a 42 minute math class. And what about student in-season athletes who don’t really have the chance to make up a gym day without repercussions in their respective sports? We are considering both sides of the issue before making a position to try to change, not completely stop, the requirement,” Knorr said.

While Stephenson understands why students may not wish to make up gym, he insists that stopping this requirement would give students the chance to miss gym as many times as they want to, with the help of their parents and guardians, without any repercussions.  Physical education is very important, especially with its stress on cardiovascular fitness.

“We’re fitness based, and we believe in cardiovascular fitness. Tons of research shows there is a direct correlation between physical fitness and education,” Stephenson said.

Before anything is finalized, Student Government is collecting data on how many students actually do feel that gym make ups are unnecessary, or are more time consuming than they should be. If students insist that by being required to make up gym, they are being impacted negatively, then Student Government will take action.

“If the current gym make-up process affects majority of the students negatively (i.e. grades, conflicts with other activities) then as their representative, government will meet with Mr. Stevenson, Dr. Ness, and Mr. Rigby to discuss about possible changes,” Student government president, senior Jessie Amga, said, “In these type of situations, government usually drafts a proposal to the administration which states the problem, negative impacts it has on the students, and possible solutions. Like many changes, it will take some time and several meetings with the principal, directors and possibly the board before anything is finalized.”

Student Government sponsor Matt Wiemer agrees with Amga. Even though he is impartial to the idea of making up gym, since he doesn’t have to, he does believe that all student should be able to voice their opinion. Since Student Government is a voice for the students, they will do whatever they have to if it will benefit the students.

“If the general public does value an issue, I stand behind my students and their will to do something about it,” Wiemer said.

Now is your chance to be heard, Niles West. Vote in the poll below to let us know what you think about the new policy.

What other options should there be in place of gym make up requirements?

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