Imagine being faced with the problem of having to run a quality physical education program—without access to a gymnasium.
As unbelievable as that may seem, that’s the situation being faced by teachers at J.W. Walker School here this year.
It’s nothing new that the school doesn’t have its own gym. But with construction on the “multi-use” facility at nearby Westfort, that meant the gym there was off limits.
Larry Patrick, a teacher at J.W. Walker for the past 15 years, said they simply took their programs downstairs to the “basement.” And while they have to work around some obvious distractions (most noticeably the carpeted steel poles holding up the ceiling), he said things went pretty well.
“We still provide a good phys. ed. program, and while the kids may miss out on the team sports like basketball and volleyball, they are still provided a quality program,” said Patrick, adding a high emphasis is put on the kids’ physical fitness throughout the year.
“There’s still a lot of things that you can do,” noted teacher Terry Ogden. “There’s no sense in whining about [the lack of a gym], you just go out and do your best with it.
“Larry has done a lot of research on games and he’s very innovative—we still do a good job teaching them the skills,” he added.
Gym classes run 35-40 minutes, and are provided to the students four times each week.
The students undergo aerobic and anaerobic testing, along with flexibility and endurance, while also having an in-class session which teaches them what fitness is—and how to maintain a consistent level of physical activity.
Patrick said the teachers often design unique games for the kids to play, run relay races, and have incorporated their very own fitness testing to ensure the kids stay in optimum shape.
The key, he stressed, is to keep the kids busy in a positive environment.
“We have all kinds of things set up among various stations to keep the kids involved,” Patrick remarked enthused, jokingly adding that the kids have picked up a “radar” sensory when they’re in danger of making contact with one of the poles.
And despite not having the chance to play volleyball or basketball indoors during the winter months, J.W. Walker principal Joyce Meyers said the school make good use of other facilities here.
For instance, the school is among just a few that offer curling and gymnastics in the winter, and is the only one to offer a golf program in the spring.
The students were taken out for three full mornings to practice curling, culminating in a mini-bonspiel. In golf, the grade eights are rewarded with a day on the links at Kitchen Creek.
The kids are schooled on golf etiquette and safety, and shown the proper techniques of the game.
Patrick likes to refer to these sports as fitting into the school’s philosophy of offering “lifetime leisure-time sports,” which he said the kids are more likely to participate in after they leave school.
And even though court sports are hard to incorporate into their phys. ed. program, J.W. Walker still has managed to have former students become key players on the Muskie high school teams.
Patrick said that proves they are providing the students with the necessary fundamentals in sports—despite the lack of a gym.