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Seneca Valley students to get credit for marching band

| Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, 6:21 p.m.

Seneca Valley School District will offer a new course next year that will allow students in marching band to get physical education credit.

A new, independent-study, physical education course, offered through the district's cyber program to grades 10 to 12, will give students a semester credit, or .5 credit, for completing a full season of marching band beginning in the 2014-15 school year. Seneca Valley Assistant Superintendent Matthew McKinley said.

Seneca Valley officials determined that marching band equals 15 hours of cardiovascular work, McKinley said.

Students will have to complete an additional 15 hours of resistance work, verified by a fitness or physical activity professional, and 15 hours of online work through the cyber program to get full credit.

At the start of the 2013-14 school year, student athletes were offered a similar independent study course to use a full season of their sport as one semester of physical education credit.

“There's been a strong response with athletes, but not completely overwhelming,” he said. “It's been appropriate.”

McKinley said some students enjoy traditional physical education classes, while other students have been using the independent study course to free up room in their class schedules.

“Just like with regular cyber courses, they're not for every student, and we want appropriate placement of student,” he said. “We want to set them up for success.”

The district has been developing the independent-study physical education course for sports and marching band for a couple years, McKinley said, with the help of physical education teachers, coaches and band directors.

Rolling it out for athletes was easier, as it was clear that they would get the required 15 hours of cardio and resistance training through the course of the playing season.

“We felt confident athletes would meet those qualifications in sports, but we weren't sure about marching band,” McKinley said. “So we wanted to talk to instructors, students and parents more.”

After more input and research, McKinley said they decided members of the marching band easily would reach the cardiovascular requirements through the season, but would have to complete the resistance requirements on their own outside of band.

Neighboring Mars Area High School also allows students to use marching band or their school sport in place of physical education only if they have a full schedule and cannot fit in a traditional physical education class, said Laurie Dufford, guidance secretary at Mars.

She said the school has offered students this opportunity for at least 15 years. It's open to any high schooler, but primarily upperclassmen take advantage of it.

At Seneca Valley, the marching band director will sign off verifying that the student completed the full season and necessary cardio requirements, McKinley said, and will complete the online coursework to get full credit.

The online work will cover physical fitness fundamentals, like health-related fitness components, benefits of lifetime fitness and being a wise consumer, that students may be missing out on through their sport or marching band.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or rfarkas@tribweb.com.

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