P.E.: Out-of-school sports aren’t credited for exemption

Sophomore Marissa Guempel practices gymnastics for 12 hours each week. [Cate Guempel]

The current PE exemption policy is problematic in the eyes of some athletes who participate in non-school related sports. All San Marin students are required to complete physical education in ninth grade followed by another year of credit, whether it be in grade 10, 11 or 12. However, there is a way to waive out of this second year requirement by submitting an exemption request form, where certain criteria must be satisfied. This includes passing five out of the six areas of the California Physical Fitness Test, which binds with Education code 51241, and playing two seasons of a sport (not including those in ninth grade) to compensate.

An underlying issue comes out because the sports must be played for the school’s teams, and the form must be signed by their coach and the athletic director to verify. Only sports played for San Marin are considered as the students are registered into the system.

Sophomore Marissa Guempel, a competitive gymnast, was unable to waive out of her second year of Physical Education.

“I practice 12 hours a week at the Novato Gymnastics Center; however, I still had to take yoga this year in order to meet the two year requirement, even though I passed all six PE tests last year. Not only does this negatively affect my ability to do my sport because of extra physical stress, it also takes away my chance to take one more academic class in my seven period schedule.”

She believes PE exemption should be available to anyone who takes the time to work hard and participate in rigorous sports outside of school.

“The fact that practice is away from school doesn’t change how hard an athlete works. I find it to be unfair that a cheerleader may get out of PE but a gymnast may not. Especially since San Marin doesn’t offer sports like gymnastics to students, they should consider how this just unnecessarily makes their lives a little bit harder,” Guempel said.

She and several others are affected by this problem, and she hopes the school will make a change to help the many people who will be affected in the future.

Senior Rocio Stites has been dancing at Rhythms Performing Arts over the past seven years, engaging in this activity on average 5-7 hours a week. She says if it were offered at school, they’d be able to do the same amount of hours as cheer, for example.

“We do as many leaps, flips, turns, and jumps as they do. Group dances have lifts as well. They aren’t the same since that’s a main skill in cheer, but we do have them.”
She believes that dance should be considered a sport at San Marin so that it exempts students from PE because there are dance competitions just like those of cheer.
“It’s an exercise. A dance team/club could perform at games with cheer, dance at rallies or perform flash mobs. It’s one thing if there aren’t enough dancers to create a team, but it shouldn’t be ignored if people are interested.”