ETHS must require both PE, fine arts for four years

ETHS must require both PE, fine arts for four years

Grace Fay and Grace Fay

Prioritize art.

While PE is important for the physical health of students, it is time for ETHS to start focusing on how art can help improve students wellbeing.

Illinois is one of only six states that requires PE all four years. Yet it is still 26th in the country for overall health of the state. The current policy on requiring PE for students every semester (counting wellness), all four years, is not suitable for every student. ETHS should find another program that could also benefit students health. Here, that is the art program.

Our school offers an almost endless supply of outlets for student art. Classes include sculpture, painting, photography, drawing, piano, theatre and more. The ceramics room just got revamped, and there are numerous after school art clubs for students. Yet, ETHS only requires a person to take, at the minimum, one art class to graduate.

This is a detriment to not only student’s education, but student’s health. Art has long been known to give wellness benefits for students. According to a Dec. 2015 Huffington Post article, researchers have found that art reduces stress, depression and can help people with emotional expression. At an academically grueling school with students that have all experienced different levels of difficulties with mental health, a universal requirement of constant art classes would help students have at least one outlet a day for emotional expression.

On the other hand, PE is not always as effective. By the time everyone is done changing and getting set up for class, there really is only 25 minutes left for physical activity. That is less than half the suggested time of 60 minutes. An added detriment is that while there are students that can be intensely physically active, many students instead use the time for socialization and try and do the least amount of work as possible. The effectiveness of PE on a student’s health is lost in the process.

Now, PE does have many positive benefits for students. It is a break from a rigorous academic schedule, and there are many students who really enjoy their PE classes. It can be a place for students to build relationships and learn about teamwork and how to live healthy well after high school. Since, according to the CDC, over a third of adults in America are obese, making sure that students have a healthy lifestyle to begin with is a great way to make sure they don’t fall prey to American health concerns.

As students, we should obviously have constant exposure to both classes. That is why I am supporting an new normal for non core classes. For one semester a year, students should be taking an art class, and for the other, a PE class. This ensures that students get the best of what our school has to offer in multiple departments and can fully take advantage of the health benefits inherent to both activites. We as a school must realize that health and wellness extend beyond the weight room.