Team sports fade in P.E.

Team sports during gym class may soon become a thing of the past.

Thanks to grant money the Oak Harbor School District recently received, physical education teachers will change the way they’re teaching their courses to better meet new state requirements.

Instead of emphasizing an athletics-based curriculum that focuses on team sports, teachers will offer more of a fitness and nutrition-based curriculum.

Because the new approach requires a lot more equipment and training, the Oak Harbor School District received a $615,000 grant from the Carol M. White Physical Education Program. That grant provides $400,000 worth of equipment purchases that will benefit all schools throughout the district.

In the next three years equipment such as mini-trampolines, wave boards, stationary bikes for spinning classes and horizontal climbing walls will be purchased. There is also approximately $50,000 in the program to pay for high tech monitors that will allow students to keep track of their heart rate while exercising.

Teachers hope the new gym classes will increase involvement and improve the fitness and health of all students.

“Each child will have a piece of equipment they can turn and move,” said Ranee Bristow, PE teacher at Oak Harbor Middle School who applied for the grant.

She said that PE classes that emphasized team sports were cheaper to run, but also meant there were a number of students who would stand around during activities.

The fitness classes will be designed to teach student activities they are likely to continue when they are adults.

Bristow said she has been following the program ever since it was nothing more than bill in Congress in 1999. She couldn’t apply for the grant after it was approved in 2000 because the school district didn’t meet the requirements. At the time, the Oak Harbor School District didn’t have PE specialists working in the district’s elementary schools.

Then, thanks to voter approval of a levy in 2001, the school district was able to hire those teachers for the elementary schools and Bristow has been applying for the grant every year since then.

“Persistence paid off,” Bristow said.

The grant will be stretched over a three-year period and the school district had to contribute approximately $133,000 in matching money. The grant will be dispersed in three installments, with $385,000 distributed in the first year, $117,000 in the second year, and $110,000 in the third year.

Bristow said the equipment hasn’t arrived yet. She has to wait for the beginning of the new fiscal year, which starts Sept. 1, before making those purchases.

In addition to new equipment, the program offers money for training purposes for the school district’s PE teachers. That money will pay for trips to national and state workshops along with local training sessions, which begin in September.

School officials had to change the PE program to better meet state physical education standards. While the teachers don’t have to deal with preparing for another addition to the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, they will have to prepare to give a classroom-based assessment. Unlike the WASL, the teachers will have to grade the assessments and report the results to the state.

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