The Choice Behind Physical Education- Should There Be One?


Elise Bowen

Senior Matthew Altenburger believes Physical Education contributes to students well-being.

Every year from Kindergarten on, students have taken gym class, with an  exception to those who took it online in-between school years or during the  2020-21 school year. That changes, however, in junior year, when students are no longer required to take a form of physical education. 

Although classes like yoga, weight training or even regular P.E. are still offered, a slim amount of students take them. Despite enjoying gym class during her first two years of high school, Junior Bridget McNally found that arts electives such as theatre and choir took priority in her school day.

“I want to go to an artistic school and I have to take academic classes, so those types of classes fill up my schedule,” McNally said. “Gym just doesn’t make the cut.” 

The pull of furthering a language, taking an arts elective or getting early releases and late arrivals, which have seen a significant uptick in the last year, often draw students away.

Senior Skylar Fox agreed electives are valuable to students’ futures, especially for seniors like herself who need the room in their schedule. 

“I feel like a lot of students need room for classes that’ll help them get to the career path they want to go into during college,” Fox said. “I don’t think gym should be mandatory and take away from that.” 

Physical education isn’t a core class, and some would argue it has no educational value. But many students find value its other, more practical areas—from outside the classroom to inside the body. 

While senior Matthew Altenburger didn’t take gym this year, his weightlifting class from last year was “well worth the time,” considering he needed a reintroduction to sports after an injury.

“In terms of electives, I wanted to try different things,” Altenburger said.

Exercise is widely renowned for its physical and mental benefits, as Altenburger described. In fact, the CDC found routine physical activity is a crucial part of young peoples’, especially students’, development. However, it noted that only 29.9% of high school students attended physical education classes daily. 

Senior Chelsea Neville, who currently attends yoga, said that the class has helped relieve her day to day stress. Despite this, although Neville agreed yoga was a good addition to her schedule, she thinks physical education classes really only need to for freshmen and sophomores. 

“I feel like you can exercise on your own time after that,” Neville said. 

Senior Nic Jones disagreed. As a member of the football and track teams, Jones values fitness. He makes a concerted effort to stay fit and believes that gym class can be a good first step towards every-day fitness. 

“I think that physical exercise can really improve learning in every other class,” Jones said. “If you’re getting a work out, you’re brain is going to be more clear—you’ll work harder.”