LIFE class provides a new spin on physical education

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This year, VHHS introduced LIFE (Lifelong Integration of Food and Exercise) as a new gym class. It has caught the eyes of students and staff as it not only involves the normal athletic aspect of a gym class but adds in real-life skills like cooking. The class switches off on foods and athletic lessons each day in order to provide a good mix for the students. 

On the foods side, teachers like Lynne Benson and Kelley Whitescarver, who both teach foods and help with LIFE, focus on nutrition rather than just recipes. Ms. Whitescarver mentioned that LIFE teaches students more applicable foods topics for the students to use in the future, such as modifying recipes and ways to keep one’s diet full yet still nutritious.

Although classes such as Outdoor Ed incorporate cooking into their curriculum, Benson explained that “this [cooking part of the class] is integrated throughout the entire semester. So the LIFE kids have already been in the kitchens and… learned about certain nutrients and done recipes that mirror what they’ve learned.”

As for the more physical side of the class, it is seen to be substantially different than other gym courses. Physical Department head and soccer coach Michael McCaulou talked about how the class is more tailored to the students and said, “the biggest difference is going to be that they [workout days] are going to be individualized for each person based on their nutritional needs and things of that nature.” 

Students like Nicole Herrera (12) agreed with this, expressing that LIFE feels like the gym class for her because it’s “personalized to target a workout and diet that fits each person.”

As a matter of efficiency, LIFE also appeals to students who have jam-packed schedules. Whitescarver explained that “A lot of students also don’t have time in their schedules to take an elective, so it’s the best of both worlds.”

It lets students get their mandatory P.E. credit while allowing them to learn about important lifestyle lessons with food and health.

As it is a new course, many people don’t know about it yet or are unsure of whether to take it. Mr. McCaulou said that although around 40 students had originally signed up for the class, only 24 were able to fit it into their schedules for the first-semester class. 

As of now, there is one class period with teachers from both the Physical Education Department and Foods Department alternating on teaching the students their respective subjects through the week. 

While it wasn’t the expected turn out, the teachers stay optimistic and Benson noted, “You know, it’s a new course and I think with new things you’re going through the ups and downs and figuring out what’s, what’s the best practice and things of that nature…I’m just glad that this group of kids and the staff is pioneering it.”