In 2014, students in Shaker Heights began the search for a loophole to gaining the beyond-the-state-minimum extra physical education credit needed to graduate. This loophole comes in computer form and goes by the name of Brigham Young University. Students can take online BYU courses such as swimming, golf and bowling. Students have seen BYU courses as a saving grace when it comes to graduating on time. The Shakerite, however, has vowed to shed some light on the not-so-graceful tales of high school gym. Here, we give a girl who was stripped of her high school diploma a voice.
Sarah Brown decided to partake in online gym courses rather than cram the class into her already rigorous schedule. Brown has been a Shaker student since kindergarten and has always loved being active. She especially loved the physically demanding yet irresistible challenge that hula-hooping offered.
For those who aren’t familiar with the sport, it comes with a rich history. Hula hooping was first discovered in the early 2000s when the Woodbury Olympics were coming to fruition. Physical education teachers across Shaker Heights realized that the taxing yet rewarding “Pacer Test” — a test which requests kids to run laps across gym floors and get faster with each lap — wasn’t for everyone and decided to throw in a freebie for students. The teachers settled on putting a rim of plastic around the children’s waists and demanding they ne’er let it hit the ground.
Brown found her love for the sport when she excelled in that Woodbury hula-hooping module, going so far as to earn her whole class extra popsicles after one especially impressive round of hip swiveling. Students threw roses at her feet and wiped tears from their eyes as the bell rang, signifying it was time to hide under a parachute so that it seemed like the class had gone missing when their teacher returned.
Throughout her middle school career, Brown had grown accustomed to emphatic applause after showing off her skills. But now threats such as “This computer has a virus. Treat it in T-15 seconds or it will combust” greeted her after her best efforts to keep the hoop afloat.
When Brown failed to complete required tricks and pass certain levels of her gym course, she felt very discouraged. “The online gym teachers were incredibly upset with me when I couldn’t get my lasso hooping above my head,” Brown said. “Not only that, but they would belittle me, too. One time, when I was having trouble with my Isolated- Toss-Somersault-Catch sequence, the online avatar who is supposed to be my instructor threatened to hack my computer.”
After training her Waist to Neck Transfer (arms inside hoop) trick to perfection, Brown felt ready for her final in online gym. She turned on her 1 to 1 Chromebook, logged onto the program, and began hooping like she’d never hooped before. She drew inspiration from people who have become legends of the ring. She chose Donna Summer’s hit 1978 cover of “Macarthur Park” to accompany her in her final performance. Though Brown gained confidence from the swell of the chorus, and seemed to be energized by “sweet green icing flowing down,” her performance lacked pizzazz and did not earn the score that RogerHub projected she needed in order to pass her online physical education class.
One gym credit short, Sarah Brown was not allowed to graduate with her 2019 peers. She can be seen at the Beachwood mall in the Lego store, constructing Lego pilgrim scenes in order to obtain her final gym credit.