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Physical education revamped at JHS

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A Jamestown High School student participates in a physical education class held in the weight room. Alex Taylor / The Sun

Jamestown High School is now offering nine physical education courses to give students options while obtaining the required amount of health credits to graduate, said Adam Gehlhar, principal of JHS.

"Last fall our PE (physical education) department looked at our sequence of courses and said that they wanted to re-envision that pathway to make it look more enticing for students," Gehlhar said. "We require one and a half credits of PE at the high school level but we want kids to have experiences beyond that."

Gehlhar said some of the courses include beginning and advanced strength and conditioning, health, individual and team sports, dance and an all-female physical education course. Gehlhar said the highlight of the new direction of the program is a course that is a collaboration between food nutrition and strength and conditioning.

"They're doing what's called nutrition and fitness. Working with kids to help them understand the nutrition aspects of both healthy living and high performance in athletics and strength development," Gehlhar said. "It's a combination where they spend time within the classroom learning the nutrition side of things and food preparation and also work with the PE department to learn about the fitness side of things."

Gehlhar said the course has 40 students this semester. The class is divided in half so 20 students are in the classroom one day while the other 20 students are in the gym, rotating back and forth each day.

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"As far as I know it's the first program like that in the state," Gehlhar said. "We're trying to see what kids want to see in the world of health and fitness. We want to give students a wider variety of choices."

William Nelson, strength and conditioning and personal fitness teacher at JHS, said he's seen an increase in class sizes within the department, but also an increase in student participation.

"Exercise stimulates brain waves, and we're trying to give students more choices to accomplish that," Nelson said. "We want to make it exciting and create an enthusiastic environment."

Nelson said the weight room at JHS is basically never empty, with students participating in classes or individual workouts starting with "zero hour". Nelson said zero hour is a strength and conditioning course that students can enroll in to start the day with a workout, which begins at 6:15 a.m.

Gehlhar said Nelson was recently awarded North Dakota Teacher of the Year by the North Dakota Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (ND SHAPE).

"This (the weight room) is kind of my second home," Nelson said.

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