Shaker students don’t struggle to meet physical education requirements. Most earn credit by participating in their sports. However, Raiderettes and cheerleaders don’t enjoy this perk because the district does not recognize our efforts as sports.
Each morning, I, along with 23 other girls, am up and ready for school and practice by 7 a.m., and I am at school by 7:30 a.m. for morning Raiderette practices for zero and first period.
Practices, held in either the humid multipurpose room or on the cool football field, usually include a cardio and stretching warm up. Next, we practice our dances. Any mistake means we must restart. Once the band arrives, we run through the entire show — opener, feature and closer — again and again. We stop and restart whenever a band member makes a mistake.
By the end, we are drenched in sweat and exhausted.
So we were extremely upset that Raiderettes don’t receive gym credit or the option to use the sport as an Independent Study for the season, even though we typically exceed the required 60 hours.
Interscholastic independent studies are available for students who play a Shaker sport, while off-campus independent studies are for students who participate in a sport or activity outside of school. Students must complete a preseason and a postseason essay and log their activities and hours and obtain a sponsor or coach’s signature to verify that they have completed their independent study in order to earn credit.
The lack of gym credit is not exclusive to Raiderettes. Cheerleaders are not given P.E. credits either, even though they also exceed the required hours and have a longer season than most sports.
We do not get credits because we fall in a grey area. To apply for an outside independent study, students cannot have their activity take place at Shaker, and both Raiderettes and cheerleaders practice at the school. To qualify for an interscholastic independent study, the Ohio High School Athletic Association must sponsor the activity.
Cheerleaders practice twice a week all throughout the summer for two hours each day, and once August hits, they practice every day.
I am lucky to dance outside of school, which can count as a P.E. credit if I use it as an Outside Independent Study. Unfortunately, some girls are not involved in physical activities outside of Raiderettes and cheerleading, which means they need to add more extracurriculars hours to an already busy schedule. Another alternative for P.E. credit is playing a fall school sport, which may interfere with after school practices or Saturday games.
However, Principal Jonathan Kuehnle said former Superintendent Gregory C. Hutchings proposed a new policy before he left to give cheerleaders and Raiderettes credit for their hard work, a change that would allow both groups to use their sports to fulfill the state’s 0.5 credit requirement. Cheerleaders and Raiderettes would meet Shaker’s additional 0.5 credit requirement with another school sport or Independent Study.
We will finally receive our well deserved credits.
This change has been necessary for years, and at last the district has decided to take action. If implemented, the change would go into effect in the 2019-20 school year.
Before it can become a school policy, the Board of Education will have to approve it.
I hope the Board gives this proposal serious consideration. Both teams would gladly welcome any Board of Education member who wants to visit and observe practices, if doing so would help inform their decision. I hope they will contact any member of the two teams to ask about the physical demands of their work.
We want to be recognized and rewarded for working hard to be an essential part of the Shaker athletics department. We urge the Board to make that possible.