By Olivia Monzel
Laughter fills the gym as the students sprint from base to base or toss a football to their friends. Zachary’s eyes light up everytime he catches the ball as his fellow leaders cheer him on in the background, yelling his name with excitement.
Zachary is part of P.E leadership, a widely-known and highly attended class at Batavia High School. Juniors and seniors are allowed to use this class as their gym credit. They participate in gym by dressing in their gym clothes and helping kids with disabilities learn and play various gym activities like football, baseball, and soccer.
The leaders also have choir and activity days. The leaders’ voices fill the music room with different melodies as their bodies sway to the music. After they practice their performances, the leaders do an activity to benefit the disabled students.
“I chose to take P.E leadership because I enjoy helping others and thought it would be great to learn how to work with my peers that have disabilities,” said junior Maddie Monroe.
Monroe is a leader for the third block gym class. This is her first year as a leader and she plans to continue as one for senior year. Monroe has never had the chance to interact and befriend students with disabilities as they do not cross paths in school. Now, she has the chance to get to know them and become friends.
The most important thing to notice is all the benefits that come out of P.E leadership.
“A benefit of P.E leadership is that it prepares you if you’d like to work in the Special Ed field and it challenges you to be creative and use your imagination to think of different things for the kids to do and modifications for them,” said junior Epiphany Chasmar.
Chasmar is also a leader and like many others is continuing to strengthen her knowledge of special education. Some students who participate in the class have both physical and mental disabilities. These disabilities can stop them from being able to participate in certain activities. Therefore, the leaders must figure out a way to modify the games and activities so all students can enjoy. It’s sometimes hard to do with certain sports but the leaders think together. Teamwork is important in P.E leadership, according to Monroe.
“The benefits of P.E. leadership is it really helps you grow as a person and makes you open up your heart to willingly help others in need,” Monroe said. “P.E leadership not only benefits the disabled students but the students who participate as leaders.”
It gives them a chance to help others and learn more about mental and physical disabilities. Chasmar thinks volunteering is a very rewarding feeling and it’s good for people to take time out of their day to help others for the better.
“I’m very excited to take part in P.E leadership next year,” said Ashley Watkins, smiling with excitement. “I’ve heard about how fun it is and how great it is to build relationships with everyone involved.”
Watkins is signed up for P.E leadership next year and has heard a lot about P.E leadership through her peers that are currently involved. P.E leadership seems to attract new students every year. Students who were apart of P.E leadership as juniors typically take the class again as seniors.
The teachers who run P.E leadership are just as important as the leaders. They are the ones who made P.E leadership possible and devout their time to making sure it’s a class everyone looks forward to. Michael Glabinski and Sarah McEwen run this class and try to make it fun.
“When I first began teaching 10 years ago, DeKalb Special Education was the only place that would hire me,” Glabinski said. “It was a blessing I would not trade my job for anything else,”
Glabinski teaches Adapted Physical Education all day for Mid Valley Special Education Cooperative. He travels to 4-6 schools a day, teaching different ages K-12.
McEwen is a teacher for P.E leadership who helps regulate the class and make sure both the students with disabilities and the leaders are doing their part to make P.E leadership a beneficial class for everyone.
“P.E leadership is good class to be a part of if you’re interested in pursuing a career in special education or just simply want to help others,” said Chasmar. “It is beneficial for both the student and the leader.”