UCF looks at Phys. Ed changes, new Sports Medicine class

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Health, fitness proposals highlighted at board workshop

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

fitneeesedEAST MARLBOROUGH — The district’s physical education program, especially that at Unionville High School, as well as potential new joint venture with the Chester County Intermediate Unit to offer a sports medicine topped an athletically centered Board of Education work session, Monday.

Members of the Unionville High School Physical Education Department outline proposed changes to course offerings in the health/wellness/physical education area and are suggesting one major change: reducing the requirement of four years of high school physical education to three.

Joe Herman, department chair for UHS, highlighted both the proposed changes as well as updating the board on efforts to coordinate some concepts among PE/Health programs from kindergarten through 12 grade — something that has not typically been done in recent years. All of the district’s physical education/health teachers from all six schools met recently to discuss options for better integrating curriculum in a consistent way.

Some of those changes may involve older students working with younger students — and there is a proposal to build a rope course to help teach leadership and teamwork for students, an issue the board will have to weigh during budget discussions starting in January.

Continuing district-wide efforts, wellness education continues to be put front and center, Herman said, with proposed new offerings for high school students. After taking Wellness 1, students would have the option to take new courses: Sports Science or Introduction to Yoga.

Sports Science will combine aspects of fitness education with nutrition and the science of how the body works, plus opportunities for hands-on learning, including CPR training.

Yoga will teach basic techniques and students can learn to tailor a program to their own needs. Students will undergo fitness and perceived mental stress testing at the beginning and end of the term to track progress on both fronts.

There was some concern expressed about some of the spiritual aspects of yoga study — both board director Robert Sage and board president Victor Dupuis expressed concerns that there might be confusion about whether any sort of religious aspect to the course. Ken Batchelor, the Assistant to the Superintendent, said that the class would be entirely secular in nature.

The other proposal involves the CCIU running a Sports Medicine program at Unionville High School, starting with the 2017-18 school year. Although the program would be much like the Allied Health and other similar programs run for Chester County high school students, this program would be based at Unionville, making it more convenient for UHS students.

Brian Hughes, principal of the Technical College High School at Pennock’s Bridge in Jennersville, outlined the details of the program, which would be aimed at those interested in learning more, including those looking at science or medical careers or those interested in studying physical therapy.

The startup of the program would cost the district $131,000 in the first year — a number that could drop as the offering becomes available to neighboring schools and the CCIU rebates some of the cost of the program to Unionville-Chadds Ford for hosting it. Additionally, district officials said that there would likely be offsets, as less staff would be needed elsewhere if students opt for this course.

Finally, the board discussed parking fees at Unionville High School for students. At $200 a year, those fees are the highest in the county, in some cases more than five times higher than neighboring schools. Director Carolyn Daniels had brought the issue up, saying it one that many parents address with her, a sentiment echoed by director Gregg Lindner.

The discussion broadened into talks about participation fees and whether it would be fair to just reduce one set of fees while leaving other fees intact. A broader discussion on fees — and the roughly $200,000 they add to the district’s revenue stream seems likely as part of the budget process in 2017.

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Perk Musacchio
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I think both ideas highlighted in this article are excellent additions to the high school curriculum. With the high levels of societal stress including students of all ages, yoga is a wonderful option to help reduce stress, increase mindfulness, and enhance physical fitness. I’ve taken yoga classes for years and from different practitioners. It has never had any religious aspects. That should not be a concern at all. A sports medicine program is another fabulous opportunity for anyone considering a career in medicine, rehab or sports management/training. I wish it was available when my children went through the district.