Unified Gym class planned for 2015-2016


courtesy of Sylvia Weddle

Michelle Weddle (right) helps Sarah Webber (left) throw the bocce ball at their match against Oakdale.

by Erin Lafferty, Reporter

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Unified Gym is a new elective class that will be available starting in the 2015-2016 school year. The class will combine both students with and without disabilities, mirroring the Unified Sports program many participate in after school. The same sports that are played on the Unified Sport teams will be incorporated in addition to other sports and activities; however, Unified Gym will not count as a physical education credit that is required to graduate.

Mrs. Stephanie Bindel, Special Education Chairperson, said, “Hopefully, by having Unified Gym during the school day, more students will be able to participate. Since Unified Sports is after school, it is hard for kids to participate, and this will give them another opportunity.”

Unified Gym will be taught by Mrs. Barbara Ferguson, Athletic Department Chairperson and coach of the volleyball team. The period in which the class will be held is dependent upon the master schedule, which will be built later this spring.

Sydney Rossman, a sophomore and participant in Unified Sports for two years said, “I would prefer if it is fourth period because it would be fun to end the day with something fun.” Rossman plans to take the class her senior year.

Bindel said this first year, Unified Gym will most likely only be offered one period in the fall or spring semester. If the class goes well, it may expand to both semesters and more than one period.

Mr. Frank Weaver, who teaches an physical education class for autistics students and a regular gym class at Rockville High School said, “Kids that would take the combined class would help instill confidence in the autistic kids and help the other kids be shown how lucky they are for their abilities.”

The class will be a positive learning environment that allows every student to feel included.  Unified Gym will help students build up their confidence and have fun interacting with others. Unified Gym will allow students to feel important and a part of the school.

Weaver said, “Seeing the excitement they have when they succeed and teaching teens with limited abilities is fantastic. When you see a student with limited abilities smile and succeed, it is rewarding and uplifting.”

Weaver, Rossman, and Bindel all encourage students to sign up and get involved.

Bindel said, “Signing up will allow students to have positive experiences, just like those in Unified Sports do. This class will give teens ideas about future jobs and allow them to expand their interests.”

If you are interested in signing up for Unified Gym next year, mark it on your course registration sheet or talk to Mrs. Ferguson or Mrs. Bindel for more information.