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Mukwonago High School hoping for new beginning, better tomorrow for fitness of all students

Cast votes for MHS at bit.ly/PyonBOon.

Nov. 6, 2012

Physical education classes aren't what they used to be at Mukwonago High School. Neither is the fitness equipment that has probably been around for 25 years, at best guess. Ripped weight bench seats, welded, aged weights and stationary bicycles crowded into the end of the gymnastics balcony create a challenge when addressing the new fitness-based curriculum being offered at the high school this year.

The old physical education curriculum had been around for a long time. Students had few options when it came to phy ed class. But starting this year, students can pick from seven options between an introduction to physical education to beginning and advanced weight training, personal and lifetime fitness, and sport fitness with an individual or team focus. If students like a particular course, they can take every year and get credit, which has been a "huge change" at MHS.

"It was something we needed to do," said MHS physical education teacher Jim Essman. "The administration has been very supportive in helping the program."

However, cramped quarters, deteriorating equipment and insufficient storage have created concerns for student safety and do not meet the fitness needs of students enrolled in physical education classes.

That's why MHS entered the 2012 Healthy School Makeover Contest in an attempt to win a $45,000 grant for new fitness-based equipment. A video created by students Derrick Mork and Josh Drzewiecki at bit.ly/PyonBOon takes viewers on a tour of the facilities and equipment. A public vote, open from Nov. 1-14, determines the top 10 finalists. Each person is allowed to vote once per day per computer.

With 1,185 of the 1,650 students at MHS enrolled in 26 sections of physical education classes, 72 percent of the students are taking phy ed classes; 39 percent of the students are enrolled in fitness-based classes, according to the video. Of those students, about 300 are enrolled in one of 12 weights classes using equipment that has been around since some of the teachers were students at the school, Essman explained.

With the state of education in Wisconsin where it is, funds aren't available to keep pace with the upkeep of the physical education facilities in a building that is 40 years old, added Essman.

"The thing about it is it's for everybody, not just the athletes," Essman said. "It's for the whole school population."

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