Five, Six, Seven, Eight: Dance V.S. PE is up for debate


A dance class practicing for their recital.

Claire Reinthaler, Opinion Writer

Gym class: some love it and some hate it, but either way, every student at West is required to take two years of it. In the past, students were able to take weightlifting or dance as classes that would satisfy their PE requirements. However, as of this school year, dance only counts for one of the two physical education credits. This decision is unwarranted and unnecessary, and should be revoked so that dance can continue to be a specialized gym class.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t a choice the WS/FCS school board had the authority to make. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) made the decision that dance could only count for one of the two years a student is required to take PE classes. It is up to the individual student whether they want to use that option in their freshman or sophomore year or not at all. Students can still continue on with dance if they so choose, but after one year of the class is over, the only credit you get for dance is elective credit.
Why did the NCDPI make this decision? Why take away an option that makes a subject matter more inclusive to different types of students? Dance is a great way to express yourself, and some may feel more comfortable taking it than the everyday gym class. While I’m not taking dance, I know people who are, and they have told me that dance is a very physically taxing and strenuous, but rewarding class. Dance students do just as much, if not more physical activity than students enrolled in PE, and have to perform in a mandatory dance concert that counts as their final, in order to pass the class.
PE is more of an open-ended class, where you can play with friends if you want to, but can also play by yourself. For some students organized group activities may be more their speed. In dance, there are assigned projects, where students are separated into groups to collaborate on dance related activities. They practice their dances and present them to the whole class when they’re ready, which creates a supportive and group oriented environment. Since dance is an expensive sport, it also gives students a chance to try something for free that they might not otherwise be able to afford. Dance is more accommodating for students with physical disabilities as well, as there are many different ways to dance, and therefore, it would not be as difficult for them to participate and fit in.
I’m not arguing against regular gym classes. I believe that physical education is an important subject, and something that should be taught in every school. I am not at all against continuing to offer regular gym classes as an option, but students should also have the choice to participate in dance as their chosen PE class for both years, as has been the case for multiple decades now at West. Dance is just as active and demanding of a class as PE, and provides an enjoyable variation from the norm for students who feel comfortable with it. Taking physical education credit away from a year of dance does nothing except give students fewer options and make a required school subject less inclusive.