Meridian’s physical education program develops skills that promote lifelong healthy living. Students in grades 6-10 receive 3 hours of physical education per week; students in grades 11 and 12 have the option to decrease this to one and half. This amount of time is uncommon in many schools today, but Meridian believes that physical activity is key to academic and intellectual development.
Physical education classes center on activities that push beyond traditional sports. Engaging in activities such as hiking, skating, and calisthenics allow each student to develop a healthy lifestyle even if they don’t consider themselves an athlete. Team sports are played as well, but the environment is primarily a supportive one in which students are pushed to their full potential and have fun doing it.
Our program relies heavily on the outdoors, and students spend much of their class time in Jamaica Plain’s abundant parks. Our indoor space is reserved for only the most inclement weather, as we have found that students get the most out of being outside in those blocks of time.
Additionally, our physical education program incorporates team-building exercises. We use the Project Adventure model of cooperative activities and initiatives. Sometimes, whole classes are devoted to improving students’ abilities to listen and work together. At other times, we use the activities to warm up before we begin a more aerobic activity.
Lenny Brown, our physical education teacher, says that when students leave his class, he wants to make sure that they know that sometimes “it feels good to be hot, sweaty, and tired.”