A Call for Change

Madelyn Hix, Reporter

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Eight hour practices in 100-degree heat. Outside rehearsal almost every day first period first trimester. Performing to be judged by hundreds. This is all normal for a band student. However, as taxing as marching band is, it does not count for PE credit. This needs to change.
As a student who is in band, I have to do marching band as well. This includes starting a week before before everyone else in the summer, coming home with awful sunburns no matter how much sunscreen I put on, and moving so much that sometimes I can’t even walk the next day. The marching band does just as much, if not more, than the school PE classes, yet we’re still forced to either take another physical education class. This is not fair to those who are outside sweating in the over-90-degree heat. I have seen more injuries, exhaustion, tears, and people passing out in marching band than I have ever seen in a PE class. So why do the band kids have to do marching band as well as PE?
Because I am involved in numerous activities, this year is the first year I’ve had an open period. I am applying for colleges, studying for my ACT, doing homework for other classes, and practicing for numerous musical auditions I have for college scholarships. Even with my open period, I don’t have any free time. I need an open period to be able to stay sane but I have to fill that period with PE even though I get my physical activity from marching band. In my opinion, maintaining my mental health and keeping up with my copious responsibilities is much more important than taking a class that I will never use in the future.
Not only is marching band comparable to PE, it is also comparable to a sport. While I am not devaluing golf and bowling, marching band is much more active than those two sports and the skills necessary are similar. In bowling, you have to focus on the way you swing your arm and on the spot that you want to hit. In marching band, the way you carry your instrument matters or the playing will not sound as it should. You have to focus on the spot that you have to go and get there in a certain amount of steps. Golf relies a lot on body position and being one with your body. In marching band, there is a certain way that you must carry your body and you need to be one with your body to keep balance in certain moves. Without each student’s discipline, both a sports team and a marching band would fall apart.
While talking to Mr. Bacon, I asked him point-blank, “Why doesn’t marching band qualify for a PE waiver?” There is something called the Iowa Code of Physical Education, which says that a PE exemption can be awarded if a student is “enrolled in an organized or supervised athletic progaram which requires at least as much participation time per week as one-eighth unit of physical education.” How Mr. Bacon takes it is that the adult supervising the class must be a certified physical education teacher or coach. However, the actual guideline says “organized OR supervised.” It does not have to be supervised by a trained PE teacher, as long as it is supervised and organized by some adult. There are two easy solutions to this. First, we could certify the band directors (and choir directors if we include show choir). They would take one or two classes to get certified and renew it every year or so. Alternately, the rules could simply be amended.
No matter what it ends up doing, the school board needs to take matters into its own hands. It wants students, faculty, and parents of the Iowa City Community School District to feel listened to. This is the perfect opportunity. The rules were written by the people in power. Who’s to say they can’t change them?