APS should adopt a policy, as some other school districts have, allowing students to use their participation in marching band as a substitute for a two-semester gym class required to graduate. State law gives districts this choice and also allows Junior ROTC and athletics to substitute for gym.
“We are constantly talking to our students about physical conditioning and how it’s a positive lifestyle choice,” said John Converse, band director at La Cueva High School.
Converse and other band directors argued that marching band provides the physical conditioning that students would receive in gym class.
The school board, meeting as a committee, took no action, as the band directors’ request didn’t convince a majority of board members. Some said the decision should be left to the administration, which opposed the change.
Gym class has evolved over the years to include not only physical activity, but to teach students about physically fit lifestyles, APS Curriculum Director Shelly Green said.
“(Gym class) gives students exposure to coaches” who could introduce them to sports they might not otherwise learn about, board member Martin Esquivel said.
Board member Kathy Korte agreed, saying her son took up a sport after he was introduced to it in gym class. Board member Don Duran, however, said he would like to give students the option.
“I just think it gives students another way to meet a grad requirement,” Duran said. He said allowing students to swap physical activities like marching band for gym class would allow them more flexibility to pick their elective classes.
The gym class issue became a hot topic last fall when the state Public Education Department told school districts that activities like marching band could no longer count toward a student’s gym class requirement. APS for years has not allowed that practice.
State lawmakers reversed that rule during this year’s legislative session when they passed a law giving the option back to districts.