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BOE showed good judgement keeping P.E.
Keiki need exercise, sportsmanship, training

by Crystal Silva

The state Board of Education made a wise decision when it voted to leave the P.E. requirement as is, and not use the time for various other career-oriented courses. The idea—cutting the P.E. requirement here in Hawai‘i, where more than 26 percent of children and teenagers are obese—seems ridiculous now as we look back on it.

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 said.

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.




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