The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 14, 2003


Health and fitness a collaboration at Carlisle Schools

Thirty years ago gym classes were a place where competition ruled, where teams punished teams, and there was little connection between what took place in the gymnasium and the classroom. Physical education has radically changed since then.

The health education and physical education program at the Carlisle Public Schools, according to a recent presentation to the Carlisle School Committee by physical education teachers Lynne Carmel, Margaret Heigl, and Philip LaPalme, is based on coordinated collaboration "with guidance, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, classroom teachers and assistants, special educators, systems thinking mentors, technology personnel, administration, and CCHS personnel."

Along with sports, such as basketball, floor hockey and kickball, students participate in physical activities that are tied into their classroom curriculum. Some examples of planned or implemented activities for this school year includes a Native American dance unit for third grade, games incorporating weather for second grade, systems thinking tools using connection circles in current events for seventh and eighth grades, sign language for kindergarten and first grade, harassment training for all grades, and CPR for seventh and eighth graders.

Life-long lessons

The Carlisle School program begins health knowledge and skills starting in kindergarten and continues through eighth grade. The health and fitness program is designed to offer a variety of activities, with increasing degrees of complexity, which are appropriate to the developmental needs of the students. They are taught health concepts to assess risks (behavior that could present health risks such as smoking or drinking), consequences (how risks can cause poor health), and ways to maintain healthiness (maintaining physical activities beyond eighth grade). The program also focuses on health communication (how to discuss health issues, how to assess own health), for self-management and health promotion.

The program includes recommendations by the National Health Education Standards as well as Massachusetts frameworks and the National Education Goals.

Video well-received

The school committee was enthusiastic about the computer video presentation and written report, and was impressed by the ties into the curriculum. School committee member Nicole Burkel, who recalling daily gym classes when she was in high school, asked about the current schedule. Heigl replied that every grade has physical education twice a week for 45 minutes (kindergarten, 30 minutes). In addition, health education classes are held for fifth through eighth grade once per week. "We are fortunate we are still teaching health," Heigl said. She explained that many schools relied on state health grants to fund their health positions. When the funds were cut recently, the teachers were immediately laid off. The school committee thanked the teachers for their hard work and dedication to the students at the Carlisle Schools.

2003 The Carlisle Mosquito