by Lisa Tome
Decades ago, middle school gym class meant mandated one piece gym suits and showers following the physical activity.
The middle school physical education of today is a whole new ball game. There's a rock wall for climbing, weights for lifting, and the gym suits, while still mandated, consist of shorts and a t-shirt. It costs $10 for the outfit.
"We encourage them to take them home to wash them. Most of the kids do," said Phys. Ed teacher Matt Borrelli. Borrelli, Nicole Welsch, and Tim Schmidt teach Phys. Ed to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders at Perryville Middle School.
On the middle school level, students take gym every day for three marking periods. During one marking period they head to health class.
Classes last 45 minutes per day and are sports -based. Borrelli said the curriculum is varied and includes fundamentals of soccer, football, hockey, basketball, volleyball, badminton, rock wall, weight room, skating both inline or traditional, lacrosse, and more. "Basketball is their favorite. And the girls really like volleyball," said Borrelli. "They really don't like using the weight room." He said middle schoolers like to be in motion and weight lifting is not very active. "They want to be active. It's our goal that they look forward to our class. They need to get up and move around," he said.
Borrelli also takes students outside when possible. "I go spend five minutes outside. If I'm comfortable they go outside," he said. Students are no longer required to shower after gym. "We encourage deodorant," said Borrelli
Welsch works to expose students to sports they may not normally choose. Boys play field hockey under her watch. It's a girls only sport on the high school level. "Most kids like coming here. They get kind of mad if there is an assembly or something and they miss it," said Welsch. "The boys like basketball. Most of the students like skating. The boys also like football and the girls like volleyball." Welsch also offers gymnastics to boys and girls.
"Part of our plan is fundamentals. They can choose a sport when they go to high school," said Borrelli, who is a high school volleyball coach.
Students undergo physical fitness testing three times per year. The test consists of curl ups (similar to sit ups), push ups, and the Pacer, which replaced the mile run.
Sixth grader Logan Lopez likes Phys. Ed. "You get to do all kinds of sports. I like inline skating. I've been skating since I was five," said Lopez. There is a fee for skating for the skate rental. It costs $9 per student for the unit.
The Perryville Middle School students will get exposed to another sport in March. The students will try their hand at wheelchair basketball courtesy of an assembly provided by the Maryland Ravens Wheelchair Basketball team.