J-D High School in the spotlight

Honors program, PE requirements, senior tracking top agenda

By Tami Zimmerman

New initiatives at Jamesville-DeWitt High School highlighted the discussion at the Dec. 4 meeting of the district's board of education. Various faculty and administrators spoke to the board on programs designed to improve the school's honors and physical education curricula and to track the progress of graduating seniors.

Students in J-D's physical fitness classes now have more choices, thanks to a program of elective courses established at the beginning of the current school year. The old "general PE" course has been replaced by four half-year elective courses. The four new courses are personal fitness planning, fitness activities, team games and concepts (the more traditional "gym" class), and lifetime and leisure activities.

Emily Rowles, a high school physical education teacher, explained how the program benefits students. "Students can now select courses based on personal needs, making PE a more meaningful experience," Rowles said. "They are motivated to excel when a course is tailored to their needs and likes."

Electives are currently in a three-semester rotation, which allows students to repeat courses if they so choose.

Students are not required to take every elective offered. Rowles said that these new electives have boosted student interest and participation in PE. Likewise, they offer a more realistic arrangement to achieve district benchmarks, have improved communication between students and staff and decreased grading errors.

Honors courses

Approximately 94 percent of J-D's students go on to collegiate study, which behooves an emphasis on advanced coursework at the high school level.

"We are responsible for preparing students for post-secondary academic life and the rigors of college course work," said Paul Gasparini, high school principal. He added that honors programs offer elective opportunities to facilitate the transition from high school to college, allowing students to build academic momentum.

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