On my way over to the Lower School gym, I had no idea what to expect out of Lower School Physical Education teaching legend and varsity indoor soccer coach Page Chapman’s gym class. Since arriving at Collegiate in 11th grade, I had forgotten what a physical education class was. But seeing Samantha Huber’s second graders struggle to sit still and listen to the instructions in Chapman’s class quickly jogged my memory. I remember PE as the place where I could escape the terrors of long division and class reading. It was how I discovered my passion for sports and my competitive nature (which may or may not be for the better). It provided the opportunity to show off my new soccer moves to the girls and a seat on the sideline after excessive celebration.
As I snapped back to the present, I introduced myself to the Lower Schoolers and explained how I really wanted to see what their gym class was like, since I never had the chance to experience my favorite class here at Collegiate. Immediately, several of the boys’ faces lit up, with exclamations of “It’s my favorite class too!” The second graders then dispersed into two warm-up stations to begin class. Second grade has PE twice in a six-day cycle for forty five minutes. Chapman explained, “every class begins with some type of exercise that teaches a lifetime fitness skill, such as jumping jacks, inclined push ups, lunges, etc.”
On this particular day, juggling tissues and inclined push ups were the two warm-up stations. The kids were taught the proper technique of a push up by using the bleachers to provide elevation for an easier workout. Jump rope was next on the schedule. The second graders first started out jumping solo, then progressed into teams of three for double dutch. The activity later evolved into the jumper standing next to one of the spinners, and, while the rope was already swinging, the jumper would run in and try to catch the rhythm of the rope and continue jumping. Chapman even wound back the clock a little bit as he was demonstrating the activity, and in the process showed that he is still the king of double dutch.
To conclude class, the students participated in what seemed like a fan favorite: base tag. Small place mats were placed around the gym and declared safe areas for students to use to escape the three taggers.
This is one of Chapman’s favorites to play, “It helps the students focus on their body control, awareness, and forces them to make quick decisions.” A perfect example came up during class when there was one student being chased down by all three taggers, and fellow safe classmates helped communicate where the open mats were around the gym. After class, Chapman spoke with me on the overall focus of PE: “We try to focus on cooperative games and activities that involves strategizing. The curriculum is centered around building hand-eye coordination, balance, and other skills to prepare the students for school-organized sports that begin in seventh grade.” He emphasized how he wants to get students excited about lifelong fitness. While it was tough to see the kids have to stop and move on with their day, I was elated to see that kids still look forward to and take advantage of PE classes. I am grateful for how PE taught me the basics of fitness, the rules of sports, and how to be a (somewhat) gracious loser.
All photos by Bryce Ritter.