Mount Vernon’s fine arts program is one of a kind, containing many students passionate about more than one activity. Out of the entire school’s population, 54 percent of students participate in one or more of our school’s offered fine arts classes. These courses are extremely beneficial and should be encouraged, however there are only so many available classes in a day, leaving our students who are interested in fine arts unable to experience any other extracurricular classes they’d like to try out. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution to clear space in all students’ days. The class of Physical Education is an easily accessible outside of school activity that should be offered as an independent credit.
There are a variety of sports offered as an extension of our high school. Each of which, when in season, offers more physical activity than the lifetime PE available for credit at our school. Before school and summer Strength and Speed is also an option, as are non school related fitness programs. According to the Iowa Department of Education, in order for a student to earn a credit using an “Independent Study of Physical Education,” they must be taught a unit. In other words, there must be an individual goal, which a certified teacher would be required to direct their student toward. In order for schools to award a credit there must be visible progress shown, so testing is necessary. All of these requirements are easily met through sports and our strength and speed programs. However, it’s understandable that the competitive atmosphere created by those options may have a deterrent effect on some students.
Such students could still easily meet all the requirements through an outside of school activity. In our area there are many accessible options, such as Dance Arts Iowa – in Mount Vernon, Farrell’s eXtreme Body shaping – in Cedar Rapids, and Revolution Martial Arts – in Cedar Rapids. These would allow for a less competitive environment while still pushing students to grow and providing testing opportunities for credits.
Mount Vernon High School offers a multitude of extracurricular classes to its students. Many are encouraged, such as sewing, foods, and auto mechanics, as they are helpful for adult living. However, some students are unable to work these wonderful classes into their schedule due to lack of space. Students at Mount Vernon are granted credits for their online and out of school studies through AP, Kirkwood, and other institutions, so they should also have the option of independent PE offered to meet their physical education requirements.