Shining a light on Hingham news

The Harborlight

Shining a light on Hingham news

The Harborlight

Shining a light on Hingham news

The Harborlight

Monumental Change to Sophomore Gym Requirement

The empty gymnasium, a more common sighting this year during the school day due to the change to the sophomore gym requirement. Credit: Ethan Warhaftig

Beginning this school year, sophomores are no longer required to take a Physical Education class during the school day. However, the Massachusetts law on physical education, which is contained in MGL Chapter 71, Section 3, states that “Physical education shall be taught as a required subject in all grades for all students in the public schools for the purpose of promoting the physical well-being of students.” So how does this work?

For years, Hingham High has offered a choice to its juniors and seniors regarding how they complete their physical education requirements. The options consist of completing a one-semester gym course, participating in a school sport for at least one season, or completing 72 hours of physical activity outside of school.

In previous years, freshmen and sophomores were required to complete one semester of gym, regardless of completing the other two options. However, the school committee decided for the first time this year to give sophomores the same three options as juniors and seniors.

School committee member Alyson Anderson said the decision was made partly because it “reduced staffing needs resulting in a whole grade no longer needing sections of gym. Considering how close Hingham was to making substantial cuts to the budget last year, this in turn had a positive impact on proposed staffing and budget needs for the 2023-2024 school year.”

Principal Swanson explains, “The elimination of the tenth-grade requirement should not be interpreted as a disregard for the value of physical education, but, rather, a recognition that our tenth-grade students can gain the benefits in a variety of ways, including participation on a school sports team.”

Nearly all sophomores believe the requirement modification is a beneficial change, since the removal of gym from the schedule has allowed students to take classes that they previously would not have been able to fit into their schedules. 

“The removal of the gym class requirement has allowed me to take intro to computer programming this year, a class that I have been wanting to take for a while,” explains Evan Benham, a sophomore who already participates in soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, and track in the spring.

Another sophomore, Gavin Anderson, who runs cross country and track all three seasons, shared that “the removal of the requirement allowed me to take a study during the year, along with band, which is great so that I can keep up with work and not be overwhelmed with schoolwork.”

Although sophomores are no longer required to enroll in a gym class, but can if they want, they are still required to take one semester of health, another course with a state requirement.

So now the question becomes — Will the PE requirement be lifted for freshmen as well? 

Swanson explains, “Given the state guidelines and our confidence in the merits of the required ninth-grade course, I do not expect any further changes to our PE requirements.”

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