MCPS should make PE a requirement for every year in high school

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Photo by Alex Wolfson

WJ students enjoy PE class, moving around and getting a break from the sitting at the desk.

MCPS requires that students only take one year of physical education (PE) for graduation. Thus, most students only take it one year in high school. However, the mental health of a lot of students would improve if MCPS required PE every year. It’s widely known that exercise helps with well-being, so MCPS would be right to have students do it regularly.

In elementary school there was recess every day and PE at least weekly. In middle school PE was every day except for one quarter a year. Honestly, even in high school we still have that innate desire for running around, engaging in physical activity. Even as we begin to embark on adulthood we still have that instinct we had as kids that gave us a rush of adrenaline when the elementary school teacher said “recess!”

Technically, MCPS doesn’t keep anyone from taking PE every year, but by only requiring it one year it somewhat discourages it, especially in an age when any free periods are subsequently filled with AP classes by students who feel the pressure for college. If MCPS made PE a requirement for all four years, all students would have to take it and wouldn’t worry about taking a less impressive schedule, since everyone would do it.

PE is a great time for us to get out of the classroom, away from the screens, the notes, and tests and into the outdoors or the gym. It’s a break from the difficult work and definitely helps with mental health. PE itself is legendary. I still recall the time my team almost won the tchoukball championship in 6th grade. The loss still eats away at me, and I know a lot of students have similar memories from PE. It’s fun.

In short, PE is a break from the grind of school. It will lessen your workload and make your schedule more doable, which all help you get more sleep and feel better. School districts across the country mandate PE all four years, and MCPS should do the same to help students with their mental and physical health.

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