Discussion: 8th Period

June 2000

Dear Berkeley High parents,

Please consider asking the school to allow the use of the 8th period 'free-add' slot for PE classes. It offers the students several advantages: 1. It offers another time slot for students to use to meet their 2 year PE requirement. For children who have summer commitments, or many class interests, this allows them to pursue their intellectual interests and still meet the physical education needs for graduation during the normal school year. 2. Many coaches and PE teachers are there for after school team activity, so it can work well for the PE teachers involved. 3. Students can use an 8th period PE class as a warm-up, if they also participate in an after school team, which is always good to protect against injuries. 4. Many students hate the idea of getting sweaty, or having to shower at school, etc during the school day and then attending classes afterwards. Slotting 8th period for gym would allow them to sweat-up at the end of their day. This may also encourage them to put more into the phyical exercise. They will know that they head home from there, rather than have to sit by some really attractive student next period feeling "reeky." 5. It may actually help re-energize the students at the end of the day, or help them shake-off the stresses of all the class expectations. We may get happier children back after school, more prepared to cope with homework and other after-school commitments. What do you think? If enough feel it a good idea, it might be more powerfully presented en mass to administration. I think it would be a good choice for all involved. In a time when we seem to be losing flexibility, this may give us a bit of breathing space back for the children's schedules without cost. Loni

I think Loni Gray's idea of 8th period PE makes tremendous sense. Also, I have been trying for three years to get the school to give PE credit for outside physical education because my son already puts in about 16 hours a week in martial arts, but they refuse to consider it. I know the independent study kids do it that way. Anyone know a way around that one?

Eighth period P.E. sounds great to me. We've plotted out my eight (soon to be ninth) grader's next four years and I can't figure out how to get in those two years of P.E. Plus, he's not really athletic enough for team sports, but really needs the exercise.

I think it is a great idea to let kids take PE eighth period. I don't understand the "without cost" part though. It surely will cost something. But why not also offer ceramics, photography, language, computers, etc? Why limit it to PE?

I would like to support the idea of an 8th period PE "free-add" class for all the reasons given by Loni in the newsletter. I have an entering 9th grader and it is hard to see how to fit PE into the 6 period schedule. PE gives kids an opportunity to try a wide variety of sports which is something to be encouraged. Also as the sports teams become more and more competitive (a serious malady afflicting all American educational institutions) where is the opportunity for recreational sports and those who are not ace atheletes but enjoy playing?

Here's the letter that I wrote to Ms. Saunders, and here's what she wrote back. If other parents have an angle that might work for opening up class space, please approach Teresa now with your ideas, so she sees that we feel it is important that she pursue these and other ideas.

[Ed: I've excerpted Loni's letter in the interest of saving space]

  Dear Ms. Saunders,         

I think I have an idea, or two that would be helpful to the student scheduling for next year. [...]  Please consider first, allowing your BHS families to use 8th period 'free-add' slot for PE classes. It offers the students several advantages:  [Ed: Loni listed 5 advantages referred to in her letter to Teens]  Allowing PE into 8th period should not add to your budget costs and would help quite a few children fit all the necessities in without summer school,.. or two gym periods their senior year. It might actually add to the attendance dollars the school earns because children would be taking the additional class each day, rather than simply substituting a different kind of class during the same number of periods. If we allow those children who aren't sports-team oriented to add on an 8th period, hopefully some additional revenues would be earned by their longer day attendance.            As a second yet related idea: It seems only just that if athletically gifted students can use activities after school as the 2 year PE requirement to open up an additional school day slot for their needs, that the other students should have the same after school opportunity, even if they are not team oriented.  [...]  Please consider 8th period PE and off-campus PE substitution.  Thank you,                                                                                      Loni  

Reply from Theresa Saunders: 

Thank you... Currently, we have Phys. Ed. during 8th period as part of the athletic program. Students who are part of a team get Physical Education credit for their participation. We can not offer regular Phys. Ed.  classes during this time period because we have no space...Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a free ad... every teaching position costs us in the schedule...We allow students to take the Visual and Performing Arts classes because they would die without the support... Physical Education is not such a species... I will, though, bring this to the shared governance committee for next year... Thank you again, for sharing your ideas... T.