It seems that exercising is an inescapable part of the education system, public or otherwise. Not only is it required that students grow and push themselves to do better academically, but physically as well. This has been a part of the school curriculum in the United States (US) since the earlier part of the 19th century when America decided to emulate what European countries had started doing around that same time and took to instituting physical education (PE) in the school curriculum.
PE is mandatory for all students attending an academic institution, from elementary school through the end of high school. However, Berkeley High School (BHS) is unique in that it offers students various options to earn the required PE credit rather than simply mandating they take a traditional active class. Though these classes remain an option for students who would prefer them, participating in school sports and PE waivers remain viable choices for those who would rather take other classes during their school day.
In fact, according to Terri Goodman, that is why the PE waiver program was started about 10 years ago: “because people were having trouble fitting PE into their six period day.” Since then, the waiver program has become the most common way BHS students earn PE credit.
There are two subcategories of the waiver. The out-of-school waiver, which works for students who participate in sports teams outside of school and the Youth Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) waiver.
“The Y, out of all things you could do for a PE waiver, is probably the most popular,” notes BHS Principal Erin Schweng. It also seems to be the most unique in that it allows students a certain measured independence. This means there will be no one to remind students to exercise, advise them, or even act as a witness as to whether they really did do what is written on the form. However, this does not mean that there is no adult involvement. Schweng explains that, “[they] have worked over the years to make sure there is a person there [they] can trust, that’s signing off on the kid’s work and exercise hours.” This includes urging students to participate in organized exercise classes, mandatory counselor check-ins, regular submission of signed paperwork, and grades assigned in accordance with students’ completion of the required 60-80 hours by the end of the marking period.
PE waivers require a lot of responsibility, which the majority of students seem to handle well– “though, there are always a few exceptions,” says Schweng, “There are always a few students who miss the deadline.” She notes that this is the one of the most prominent issues of the waiver and that each case is handled differently.