A typical high school student may experience a variety of activities throughout the day - sitting in a wad of gum, losing money to a greedy candy machine or getting attacked by alien creatures on the way to history class.
They also encounter some things you might not expect at an academic institution: sweating, pulling, grunting, running. They're all there in any high school gym class, and strength, flexibility and endurance may also be requirements.Most physical-education teachers today are more concerned about instilling "fitness for life" goals in their students than preparing them for a particular sport. Murray High School PE teacher Lisa Parker believes that "in order to have a healthy, happy life, you need to be physically fit to carry on your day-to-day activities. "
A "fitness for life" orientation is not the only thing new in PE today. Some females feel gender requirements ought to be equal. Skyline High School junior Jerica Charlesworth says, "The same things should be required from everybody. For example, on the physical fitness test, guys are required to do more pull-ups than the girls. I don't think that's fair."
The Presidential Award (based on five areas of fitness) recognizes a students physical achievements as set up by the Lyndon Johnson administration in 1966. A boy age 15-18 is required to run a mile in 6:9 to 6:20 sec., whereas a girl the same age is required to run the same distance in 8:8 to 9:23.
At Cyprus High School, according to junior Lea Smith, "we still had to do the presidential. We had to do push-ups and crunches and stretches and run two laps every day. PE was fun because my teacher didn't make us run all the time."
Parker requires that her students "run continually for 20 minutes once a week; if you walk you fail and if you make it the whole time, you pass."
"It's easy requirements," says Murray High School junior Denver Snarr. "All you have to do is show up and do the running. It benefits your health, you can (physically) improve, and you get credit for it,"
Students in all high schools are required to have 1.5 credits of physical education, including at least one semester of the basic Fitness for Life class, plus any electives that the student may choose.
The Utah State Fitness for Life course description says that the students should "identify and understand all of the components of fitness, such as cardiovascular fitness, strength, flexibility, endurance, weight control, nutrition, and stress management." Students are also encouraged to form personal physical fitness and health standards.
"Kids need to learn how to take care of their bodies when they are young," said Cyprus High School PE teacher W. Mark Mageras. "I hope (that) when kids leave my class, they learn that exercise is important to maintain health in your life."
Murray High School junior Spencer Platt said, "It taught me self discipline on staying fit and exercising more than I (usually) do."
Lindsee Butler, a junior at Murray High school, agrees that, "after you're done (exercising), you feel like you've accomplished so much and you feel good about yourself."