The Department of Education wanted to use the one semester
P.E. requirement to give students an opportunity for more “important”
classes, perhaps a foreign language or a technical vocation
class. Many argued that P.E. is not as necessary as history,
social studies, math, and English. “It’s just a matter of fitting
everything in,” said DOE spokesman Greg Knudsen to the Honolulu
Advertiser. If the vote to lower the requirement had passed,
students would still have had the opportunity to join in physically
challenging activities, they say, in the form of electives,
school sports, and intramural sports teams. In addition, the
DOE has provided healthier options to high school campuses:
walking trails and milk and water options in vending machines.
Well, milk and walking trails are not enough to solve the problem
of obesity and lack of exercise. P.E. is extremely valuable!
For many Hawai‘i children, the one hour of P.E. a day is the
only physical exertion they get.
When most students return home after school, what awaits them?
Homework, Playstation, and MTV. For high school students. going
out and riding bikes with friends in the neighborhood is pretty
much passe. There is not much to do except hit the tube.
Also worth mentioning is that when many teens are in front
of the television, they eat. Cookies, soda, and other unhealthy
foods are consumed in high quantities. Kids can count on the
next day’s P.E. class to at least cut some of the calories in
the fatty snacks.
Obesity is serious problem in Hawai‘i, and many don’t realize
how unhealthy being overweight is. Obesity can bring on all
sorts of other health problems, such as diabetes, hypertension,
heart disease, and high cholesterol.
Consider what P.E. offers the busy, usually-stressed-out high
schooler. If student are physically active, their bodies and
minds will be healthier. Ask any college student how he feels
after a night of staring at a computer screen or cramming for
that big test. With exercise, the mind will feel more alert,
and the success that comes with mental alertness may yield more
academically motivated students.
Would one semester have made such a big impact? Professionals
in the field of physical education say yes. “To teach kids how
to be physically active, how to set goals, what they could do
in their leisure time isn’t something you can teach in 10 weeks
or even a year,” Julienne Maeda, UH assistant professor of kinesiology
and leisure science told the Honolulu Advertiser. P.E. provides
balance to an academic schedule that can sometimes be daunting.
Honolulu resident Sidney Goshi, whose son is a senior at McKinley
High School, says P.E. helped her son develop into a good person
by teaching him people skills. “He took P.E. in his freshman
year, and he got to know other people because they played on
the same team in flag football, and other games,” she said.
“They learned how to think as a team, and he developed friendships.”
Goshi also credited P.E. as an “outlet” allowing her son to
temporarily break free from the demands of two honors and three
college-preparatory courses. “Everyone needs to have a little
time where they can forget about pressures from school,” Goshi
Professionals worried that if the motion had passed, and physical
exercise was not required, many would not take advantage of
it. Not everyone has the time for physical activity, what with
academic pursuits. “If I’m going to choose between intramural
basketball and debate team, I’m going with debate,” said high
school junior Kevin Manzano. “ ‘Debate team’ is going to look
better on my college application than ‘intramural basketball.’”
P.E. teaches students teamwork, allows them to burn off stored
calories, and introduces many to different avenues of sports
that they might be good at. Taking away the P.E. requirement
would have been putting Hawai‘i’s youth at further risk of becoming
unhealthy adults. I applaud the people who nayed this awful
suggestion, and on behalf of all the high schoolers in the state
of Hawai‘i, thank you.
And, just for the sake of debate, who really believes that
any high school student would choose milk over soda or Powerade.