P.E. staff P.O.'d: Albemarle High School censors op-ed

news-cudahy-leechOutgoing newspaper editor Sean Cudahy and incoming editor Ellie Leech learned the limits of student free speech after an offending editorial.

In Texas, a high school newspaper's last issue was pulled because of an editorial advocating legalization of marijuana. In Fredericksburg, the Massaponax High yearbook was reprinted because of anonymous confessions of sex and drug use. And even in the land of Jefferson, Albemarle High School has pulled the last issue of its student newspaper.

The controversy? An editorial suggesting cost-saving changes to the state's physical education requirements and letting student athletes opt out of P.E. classes.

"The reason they decided not to let us publish was because they felt it would be disruptive to physical education classes," says Sean Cudahy, outgoing editor-in-chief of The Revolution whose last issue was scheduled to come out May 20.

"The principal grabbed one," says Cudahy, "showed it to the P.E. teachers, and they didn't like it.

Cudahy, citing the 1988 student newspaper case, Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, says that administrators can censor publications due to "legitimate pedagogical concerns," says Cudahy. What he doesn't understand is how an editorial questioning the curriculum could be considered disruptive. And to make sure he understood Hazelwood, he called the Student Press Law Center, and spoke to attorney Adam Goldstein, who's worked at the center since 2003 and says he's seen thousands of student censorship cases.

"This has got to be one of the goofiest I've ever seen–- it's not even controversial," says Goldstein. "Nobody thinks making the star quarterback play dodgeball teaches them a damn thing."

The Revolution's adviser, Kim Aust, says there were a lot of reasons behind her decision to pull the issue, including the principal's offer to reprint without the alleged offending editorial. She also notes typographical errors in the story, including a misspelling in the headline: "Students' P.E. groans might be warrented."

"If I have to go to court about a story, I'm not going with one that has misspelled words," she says.

Cudahy confirms that there were typos that he, as editor, was responsible for, but says, "When I was in that meeting, that wasn't the reason for holding the issue." And Aust concurs.

"It was a disruption to the educational process," says Aust, "not because of the students but a huge disruption to the P.E. teachers. They came up yelling at me. They emailed. They said they weren't going to be able to conduct class."

Aust suggests the P.E. teachers had a litany of complaints about the editorial, and pointed out that if it appeared in the last issue of the year, then they wouldn't have an opportunity to respond. That's why she decided to pull the editorial and run a news article in August on the topic, and she says she already has student reporters working on that.

Principal Jay Thomas left the decision to pull the editorial to Aust, but clearly favored that decision. "He asked me repeatedly to not distribute it," says Aust. "The results were not going to be good. It was the P.E. teachers. They were very upset."

And she calls the censored editorial "a good learning experience" for the student journalists.

The head of the Albemarle P.E. department, Terry Midolo, did not respond to phone calls from the Hook.

"I am sorry the P.E. teachers found it offensive," says the article's author who is also the incoming editor-in-chief, Ellie Leech.

"The fact is, it was an editorial," says Leech. "It was my opinion."

And she thinks calling the editorial a "disruption" goes too far. "If I'd called for quitting P.E. or made a personal attack, that would be called for, but I didn't and I wouldn't."

Leech recalls her first year of journalism class, and learning about student rights, and that articles had to be a "material disruption" to be censorship-worthy. "I do think my rights were violated," she says.

John Whitehead, founder of the Rutherford Institute, agrees, and says the axing of the editorial "tips the line on viewpoint discrimination," which he says the Supreme Court has ruled a no-no.

"This stifles free speech, stifles creativity, and promotes conformity," he says. And if school policy is that you can't criticize curriculum or the school or teachers, says Whitehead, it has to be a written policy.

"This is censorship," he reiterates. "This is a government institution. You'd think they'd want to uphold free speech."

"If you ask do we censor student opinion," says Principal Thomas, "no, because I value the input of students."

And he insists that Aust did the right thing in pulling the paper. "Her job as adviser is to maintain the quality of the publication and standards and to better address issues."

"It's a tough line for a newspaper adviser to follow," says Albemarle schools spokeswoman Maury Brown, who notes that the multiple typographical errors "didn't reflect well on the paper."

Brown describes the incident as "a lesson where students can see the power of the media."

Cudahy, who is going to American University to study journalism, and Leech have posted the editorial on Facebook. And both students speak favorably of their adviser and school principal, despite their disappointment in the decision.

"As a newspaper, it's not our job to be cheerleaders and make everyone happy," says Leech. "Our job is to be fair and balanced, to inform and entertain. The school newspaper is an important component of student experience."


The real issue here now is censorship. Editorials are opinion whether we agree with them or not. Shame on AHS for trying to squash the opinion of a student who took the time to write and submit her opinion.. Kudos to the newspaper staff for standing up for their right to have freedom of expression. Secondly, l as the parent of two high school athletes. I couldn't agree more with the opinion of the editorial. She is not suggesting that all students have the option to opt out of PE, but that it is an option for those that train and practice for one and a half to two hours every day after school. These kids learn so much more about proper training and overall health and nutrition than they would ever learn in P.E.

Imagine if Hawes Spencer had his paper censored? Imagine if all newspapers in the US were censored (which sometimes I think they are).....wouldn't that be living in a socialistic state? What message are we sending to our young people about this..."oh, when you grow up and get out of OUR institution, then you have rights. Until then, you have none." ...I find this very interesting.

Just as HS has the right to accept or reject any article the school administration has the same right. This is just another case of kids not getting their way and some adults reinforcing the injustice of it all.

I remember when a student tried to burn himself to death in front of Albemarle High School not that long ago.

A teacher at the school told me online that the employees had been told not to discuss the event with anyone.

So this doesn't suprise me!

P.E was fun when I was in Jr. high and Sr. high.

Maybe these kids would rather play HALO on the internet in a dark room for an hour instead.

I believe that the Virginia Board of Education requires 2 classes in PE and two in health as graduation requirements.

The county schools, or any public school is Va can't cut the courses students need to graduate or make a policy to count sports as credit.
Unless, of course, the state Board itself changes the requirements. That is a multiple year revision process typically.

The editorial definitely isn't the best piece of writing I've seen. For one thing, opinion pieces ought to be more about arguing for your point than complaining about something. She spends the vast majority of the time complaining about PE class, then mentions at the very end that allowing athletes to opt out of PE might be a good idea.

But bad editorial or good, it's still the newspaper's right, as a student publication, to run what they see fit.

Principal Thomas and Mr. Brown are good examples of
people who have an experience, but do not understand
its meaning. They just don't get it.

Kudos to the AHS students.


What an excellent point about student-athletes dominating PE classes. It must be very discouraging for the other kids. Giving the student-athletes a PE pass seems like a win-win to me. They could use the time to do homework they can't do when they have all those team practices.

I've always thought that no one who plays a school sport should be taking phys ed. They just dominate phys ed class, and the unathletic kids, the ones who really NEED to take phys ed, just stand there and never touch the ball.

I was criticized by the athletic department at my high school after writing about how the boy's soccer team finished 2-10 and four guys left the team, even though it was all true and the input of all the parties involved was published. Student media is not cheerleaders for anybody.

The greatest civics lesson a public school can bestow on its students is a free, responsible exercise of their civil rights, especially when expressing opinions about school policy. If the issue was typos, that can be corrected before publication. This was clearly a case of administrators overreacting to a problem that only existed in their heads. It reflects poorly on the PE teachers and school officials if they think students will carry out civil disobedience or the like because of an editorial.

This is clearly an incident of censorship.

Why don't these student journalists produce an internet newspaper? In the era of Facebook, why publish an old-school broadsheet which can be so easily quashed by busybody administrators?

"It would also ââ?¬Å?seem” to discourage young people from presenting ideas to save taxpayer money." (in my first post)

My apologies, this sounds like I was saying the op-ed article discourages the students. What I meant was not allowing the op-ed to be published would discourage students.

I like the idea of cutting the school newspaper as a budget saving measure. Who reads newspapers anyway?

PE when I was in high school was a total waste of my time. I would have much preferred to take more foreign language or fine arts classes rather then being forced to try and play sports which is something I am absolutely no good at.
We had PE thre days a week, with the other 2 days being health classes,which was mostly human physiology that could just as well been done in a science class.
I suspect if they had a choice a large number of kids would opt for gym rather than having to read books and write papers. But why force it on those who have no interest or aptitude for it?

As a student, I hated the dreaded "GYM" class,I cannot think of anyone that I went to school with (besides the "jocks") that actually enjoyed GYM. GYM should be optional once you hit High School, because it is not required in 11th or 12th grade. The only thing that I actually enjoyed was ARCHERY, I used to envision a certain teacher's face on the target.
Physical Education teachers need to focus on the individual and find a way to make GYM less like torture.

Still... I don't see how it is a budget cut... the students have to be somewhere... if not in gym class then in another class room... which either presents overcrowding or more teachers on the payroll... aren't you just trading one for another? I'd say you can fit more kids into a gym than a classroom. So wouldn't it create a greater expense to eliminate something from required curricula if it has to be replaced by something else... unless you have the open seats.

One last comment and then I'll opt out of this discussion.

School officials are now in danger of turning a nothing issue into a big deal.

The assistant superintendent of the Albemarle County Public School system just said in a television interview that the reason the editorial was pulled was because the publication date would not have given the P.E. teachers an opportunity to respond.

First of all, this is now the second effort at revisionist history. The faculty member charged with overseeing the school newspaper tried to suggest that the article was pulled because it contained typographical errors. The student editors made it pretty clear that, though there were typos, this was not suggested as a reason for pulling the story until the issue became controversial.

Now, another adult is challenging the children's account and is saying that the story was pulled because the publication date would not have given the "other side" an opportunity to respond. That's not a valid reason to pull the article and it does not square with the reasons given by the principal or the journalism teacher.

It seems pretty obvious that AHS officials made a mistake by pulling the story. Best to admit the mistake, label it as an important learning opportunity, and move on. Instead, it appears that school officials want to stick to the "party line," no matter the real reason for their decision to pull the editorial.

It is the spin in AC schools which drives me crazy. Why can't they say that the new schedule was a response to an urgent budget crisis and then do their best to make it work without the "win-win" nonsense? Why can't they say that principals, right or wrong, have the final say on what goes in a school newspaper and that student writers can then publish in other venues if they choose?(Though in this case the PE issue raised would have got far less attention if just published in the school paper:). The long history of justification,aka as endless spinning, has bred cynicism about the real needs of the local schools and greatly diminished community respect for ACPS leadership. The evidence can be seen in the shift to a conservative majority on the BOS-the ACPS has, at least temporarily, lost the support of too many voters which can not be a good thing for the 12,000 students in

@ Frustrated AlbCoParent:

You say that "the 4Ã?â??4 schedule was RAMMED through in a matter of weeks, without any real thought to how it would work..."

You are exactly right, and then like in the AHS censorship, the wagons are circled, the party line is established, and the groupthink is pushed from the central office (one need only to read some of the comments from the county spokesperson to understand how this works). Now, the 4x4 is all about helping students and improving student achievement (the research on this is dicey).

One also has to wonder.....if the 4x4 was imposed to save money (and it was) by giving high school teachers a 20% increase in workload, and if some teachers are being laid off to save money, and if teachers and other school personnel are not given raises in order to save money, and if class size is increasing to save money, then why does the county continue employing 30 or so "instructional coaches" at a cost of between $1 and $2 million a year (30 x an approx. avg salary of $50,000)? and where is the evidence that this particular cost results in any improved student achievement?

When I live now junior hi and high school members of recognized teams get credit for PE from participation in their sport.

The reason I hate ball sports now certainly has it's originals in the gym at AHS. I haven't been in a gym since

There is a lesson here. Life is not fair. Suck it up, quit whining, and move on.

Thanks "word". Right under my nose...

To: State required
Major changes to schedules are usually a multi-year process, too. But the 4x4 schedule was RAMMED through in a matter of weeks, without any real thought to how it would work, the ramifications to students who already classes and coursework planned out for their high school careers, the effect on students who may go as many as 8 or 9 months between math or foreign language classes, etc. So, if that can be changed quickly, maybe we should at least explore beginning the process of changing the PE requirement or allowing an exemption for those who are already fulfilling it outside the classroom via high school and club sports. The counselors still don't have answer to a multitude of questions on how this schedule will work, and the kids will be living it in about 8 or 9 weeks!

Given a choice, I'd rather that my child know how to balance a check book or buy health or life insurance, or a multitude of other things they never learn in public schools, than how to keep a bowling score. Budget cut? maybe not. Better use of our funds and children's time in school? Definitely, at least for those who are already physically active anyway.

Please remember that the person who wrote this EDITORIAL is a high school junior who writes for her school newspaper. She was expressing an opinion. She was not complaining. She was not whining. She was doing exactly what she was supposed to do as a high school journalism. PLEASE let's not use the inappropriate actions of the AHS administration as an opportunity to criticize this young girl. This isn't about her.

On the other hand, I'm surprised that nobody has commented on the irony that the principal and P.E. teachers pulled the article to keep the idea from getting any attention and now it's getting 100 times more attention than it would gave received if they'd simply done nothing.

Dear Frustrated et al:

I'm not disagreeing that maybe the PE requirements should be changed. I'm just saying the entity with that authority is the state, not Albemarle High School. As it stands now, kids have to take PE I and PE II. Athletes or not. The kids should petition the state.

Dear Hmmmm ....
Maybe, just maybe, there was more than one reason to decide to reprint the paper? Maybe all the reasons are right? Concerns about the content, concerns about balance, concerns about impact, concerns about typos, etc? Just a thought.

For the record I'm not saying I agree or disagree with the decision. I'm just saying that if you talk to three different people you're liable to get three different answers. And unless it's a math problem, all of them could be right.

These comments make clear that there are points on both
sides of the mandatory PE issue. It's been an interesting

It's also a discussion the AHS students didn't get to have
because their newspaper was censored.

That's too bad, isn't it?

In response to cutting the paper...
I was on this staff and I too thought people didn't read the paper. Until, of course people started actually commenting to us about what they thought about our most recent articles. There was actually a huge upset when this issue didn't come out and the P.E. department drew more attention to it by demanding it be stopped.
There was never a question about cutting the paper and those remarks are uncalled for. Stimulating a journalist's desire for truth and a student's to read these articles is much more important than asking a student athlete to
1. run a timed mile before a huge game
2. sacrifice required class time in order to play badmitton for 40 minutes or
3. spend an hour so everyone can find out just how inflexible they are during a sit and reach test.

Ultimately the article should not have been pulled. However it may have been a blessing in disguise for our staff because of the upsettingly high number of design flaws in the issue.

The author of this article was one student brave and smart enough to attempt to put a new, maybe disliked idea into the open. She was not rallying for a revolt against gym class. It was a simple opinion paper, for she herself is a member the the cross country and track team. She is not one of the slackers that don't want to do gym. Censoring this article was not well planned out and the administrators are now covering their butts with irrelevant details. Whatever they say the reason for pulling it was, it was a bad one. And now their getting the attention they attempted to avoid tenfold. Rock on to this student, and tsk tsk to the administrators who should be more for student progress then pushing them into regress.

School administrators are now dangerously close to accusing students of lying...or, alternatively, school administrators are now dangerously close to lying themselves. This episode should be adopted as a case history by a university-level public relations education program on how a government organization should NOT react to a problem of this sort.

Small towns are so deliciously bizarre.

If the AHS administration had silenced the AHS PE teachers instead, this would have been a total non-event. Then come the inconsistencies in the "why the editorial was pulled" stories. Cover ups and CYA are always fascinating and problematic.

Thanks so much for some more quality entertainment at your own expense. High-drama budget antics, a tweeting superintendent and now censorship to tide us over until UVA student-athletes get back in town to cause more murder and mayhem.

Keep 'em coming. It gets dull here in the summer.

I am an athlete in Albemarle county and i cant tell you that i am definatelynon of the students who just does what they have to do just to get an A because doing that little bit of unnecassary "work outs" should not even qualify as physical activity. I am in either conditioning or a sport year round and the fact that i have to take PE rather than an academic class or study hall is just absurd! Daily student athletes stay up all night or at least into the early hours of the morning. This is not only hard on our bodies but also is preventable. If student-athletes were not required to take PE they could have about an hour and a half every day, with the new 4x4 schedule, to do homework or study so that they dont have to after they get home late from practice or extremely late from games and tournaments. I think each statement made in Ellis Leech's article was justified and the Albemarle County School system needs to take a step back and look at what is really going on with PE.

Student-athletes who participate in gym put even more strain on their muscles. Putting effort into gym (which is what the gym teachers constantly ask for students to do)can put athletes at an even greater risk for injury. Gym class also might tire out our athletes for a game/practice.

Kudos to the AHS student body

Maybe if they teeched the kids in the school howe to rite gooder than they wooden be no typografikal errurs.

Alowing studnets to express opinions is dangerous, and will lead to trouble. The person who should be fired is the one who allowed the students to have a newspaper in the first place. What students see, hear, and think must be carefully controlled.

If those kids really want to promote a budget saving measure, here's a good one: Eliminate the student paper!

Saves money, saves trees, saves trouble!

Kudos to the newspaper staff for not simply letting the faculty roll over them.

A possibility: the student paper makes a very reasonable suggestion that physical education classes might not be necessary for student-athletes who are already getting a lot of exercise. P.E. teachers see this as a possible threat to their jobs. (Fewer students taking P.E. classes means that some P.E. teachers might get laid off.) They react negatively not because the editorial would be disruptive, but because it might be a good idea that somebody takes seriously.

In any case, I think that a decision to pull a student editorial of this sort should have received more consideration. The school might find itself with an ongoing problem if they don't deal with their own mistake a bit more forthrightly.

P.S. Blaming typographical errors after the fact is not just disingenuous; it's cowardly. If the faculty and administrators felt strongly enough to pull the editorial, they should at least be honest about the reasons that they pulled the editorial.

Lets review what the paper ACTUALLY said.
The three types of P.E. student (in the order listed by the author):
1. The kid who does just enough
2. Extreme Slacker
3. One who pushes themselves (this was noted in the article as the "rarest" of students)

This does not paint a good picture of the student body at AHS. Where does the editor fall under this categorization of students. I would bet its not number three.

Health and P.E. class is there for a reason. If the students don't want to learn, that's on them. When they can't figure out why they can't make healthy decisions (dietary, exercise, time management, etc) in their adult lives, they will most likely blame their teachers like many unhealthy adults do now as a way to deflect any responsibility for their actions.

Teenagers from the dawn of time have always wanted to express themselves, to find ways of breaking away from their parents and assert some independence. This is no different from those other examples mentioned about legalizing pot, or admitting to doing drugs and having sex. I would bet the "controversy" garnered them, for a short time, a higher status amongst their peers. Alas, in August, they will still be journalists, and resume their normal spot in the social ladder until they write their next sensational piece.

To the editors' and students credit, 9th and 10th grade gym class can be awkward or slightly embarrassing so I can empathize with them a little. However, the positives of P.E. outweigh the negatives 100x over. If I could have written a school article to get out of math when I was in school I would have written one too!

I am not against the kids trying to express themselves and they should. However, as the author states, its an opinion and not a researched piece, so no credibility should be lent to it.

Disrespect for free speech is nothing new in Albemarle County schools. For example, in 2004 the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression gave the county schools a Muzzle award (a censorship award) for violating the free speech rights of a middle schooler, and then refusing to acknowledge its mistake or apologize for it. And even though a federal judge and a federal appeals court sided with the student, the deputy county attorney said, ââ?¬Å?The board does not agree it made a mistake, nor does it believe the administrator did.” The student received what is believed to be a six-figure settlement.
(Interested readers can Google ââ?¬Å?Muzzled: Censorship award in TJ’s backyard”)

Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that principals sometimes behave badly ââ?¬â?? as in the case at AHS ââ?¬â?? because they work in a culture that does not nurture or reward criticism or dissent. Indeed, county school leaders over the last decade have sought to ââ?¬Å?quiet” or even punish educators who challenge their decisions and policies. When a high school video production class reported on its news program that a central office software purchase, SchoolNet ââ?¬â?? sold to the School Board and teachers as a boon to classroom instruction ââ?¬â?? was costly and of little utility to teachers, apparently the topics selected for future reports, and the video production teacher were placed under careful scrutiny.
See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgFZBEwIhJs
C-ville magazine was encouraged by central office personnel to write a positive story on SchoolNet’s usefulness to classroom teachers, but it couldn’t find teachers who were using it to assist classroom instruction. There was no story.

For years, county school leaders have suffered from a severe communication problem, extending from communication with employees to communication with the general community (allegedly, that’s why there is now a county spokesperson for schools). Teachers complain that their ideas and input are not sought or valued, and that questioning and criticism are seen as insubordination. Perhaps that’s why one departing administrator gave to central office leaders a copy of Groupthink, by the psychologist Irving Janis. Janis discussed the classic symptoms of groupthink, including some that seem especially pertinent to the AHS case. For example, we seem to be witnessing the ââ?¬Å?collective efforts to rationalize” decisions and the ââ?¬Å?self-censorship of deviations from the apparent group consensus.” By rationalizing and offering a united front ââ?¬â?? and pretending that there really wasn’t any censorship, school leaders can ââ?¬Å?ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions.”

In a survey of teachers a year-and-a-half ago, many comments reflected a distrust of school leaders and a fear that ââ?¬Å?speaking truth to power” potentially jeopardized one’s opportunities in the county (some teachers still fear using e-mail to offer criticisms) and
led to ââ?¬Å?stereotyped views” of dissenters who were perceived as the ââ?¬Å?enemy.” Consistent with Janis’ notion of groupthink, commenters suggested that ââ?¬Å?dissent is contrary to what is expected of all loyal members,” that perceptions were supposed to ââ?¬Å?conform to the majority view,” and that the county leaders had in place ââ?¬Å?mindguards - members who protect the group from adverse information that might shatter their shared complacency about”Štheir decisions.” Maybe that’s why school leaders didn’t want those comments available for consumption, and tried to obfuscate a freedom of information request to release them. (See: http://www.c-ville.com/index.php?cat=141404064431134&ShowArticle_ID=1180...)

In a landmark ruling on student rights, the Supreme Court ruled in 1969 (Tinker v. Des Moines) that ââ?¬Å?neither students nor teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and expression at the school house gate.” In that case, a principal suspended students for wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam war. The Court warned that limitations were limited to ââ?¬Å?speech or action that intrudes upon the work of the school or the rights of other students.”

Though conservative Superme Court decision since 1969 have chipped way at student free speech rights, this particular passage of the Tinker decision seems especially relevant to the AHS case:

ââ?¬Å?In our system, state-operated schools may not be enclaves of totalitarianism. School officials do not possess absolute authority over their students. Students in school, as well as out of school, are "persons" under our Constitution. They are possessed of fundamental rights which the State must respect, just as they themselves must respect their obligations to the State. In our system, students may not be regarded as closed-circuit recipients of only that which the State chooses to communicate. They may not be confined to the expression of those sentiments that are officially approved. In the absence of a specific showing of constitutionally valid reasons to regulate their speech, students are entitled to freedom of expression of their views.”

It does seem a little silly to factor gym class into a students grade average...

Censorship, budget issues, athletes, P. E. classes - holy cow, will it ever stop? Let the students write their opinions, keep the P. E. classes and as for the budget issues and athletes? Look at the time the athletes spend TRAVELING because the School Board would not even "entertain" the notion of redistricting one subdivision so the athletes could play closer to home and how much money THAT would have saved. They expect the athletes to take P.E. classes, participate in their sport AND travel 2 - 2 1/2 hours away to play in their district AND maintain a certain grade average. It gets tiring just thinking about all of it. Kudos, Ellie - you have the promise of being a great journalist. You've brought out many topics that need addressing. Hold Albemarle County Public Schools accountable.

So, would it be illegal for The Hook or some other news organization to print the editorial in question? (I am an old geezer that has never done Facebook and I don't plan to...from what I have read there are too many privacy issues.)

Without reading the article it "appears" the PE teachers are just protecting their turf but maybe there is more to it. It would also "seem" to discourage young people from presenting ideas to save taxpayer money.

there's a link in the caption under the picture.

Sorry, I should have written "Ms. Brown," apparently.

As for "dissapointed" (sic), why so bitter?

@dissapointed: "...as the author states, its an opinion and not a researched piece, so no credibility should be lent to it."

So what makes it so dangerous that it needs to be stifled? Seems to me that all the fuss has lent it far more credibility than it otherwise would have merited.

If you aren't physically active in 9th and 10th grade, chances are you are not going to be when your older regardless of what goes on in PE.

I played sports in high school and loved PE. It was fun and an escape from the tedious classroom. However, in my experience it didn't teach much about nutrition or exercise. We had different sports and learned a lil about them and then split up into teams. We would have to run laps of course but it was really a joke. Maybe things have changed in the 10 years since I took it, but I doubt it.

I can see how if a school was really short on budget PE would be one of the first to be looked at.

@JJ Malloy. Exactly. In a tight budget, doesn't it make sense for students who are already very physically active to be given the chance to opt out of P.E.? I think that what is really at work here is an effort by the AHS P.E. teachers to discourage discussion about a reasonably cost-cutting idea that they don't want to see gain any traction.

@ disappointed. The student who wrote this article is a rising senior and no longer has a P.E. requirement and, in any case, is not likely as cynical as you seem to be. She was not trying to get out of P.E.; she was raising a legitimate issue of giving physically active students an opportunity to opt out of P.E.

And remember, folks. If I understand the article correctly, the article had been written and the newspaper had been printed when the P.E. teachers saw it and raised a fuss. The school went to some trouble and expense to keep people from reading this editorial.


What frightened the school administrators and teachers about this article? That young people could think and debate issues? Oh, we can't have young people doing that in high school. Oh, no, no! It might challenge the status quo and the maintainers of the status quo.

Students don't be put off by the misguided intentions of your superiors. Continue to think for yourselves and question your world.

I agree that student athletes shouldn't be forced to take gym class... but it's also the only reason I know how to score bowling... This could come in handy if Z-Day (Zombie Apocalypse) ever comes... I think I'll like to pretend I'm bowling as I mow down scores of Undead in a large SUV.

Actually... I'll take that back... It does help to have student athletes in the gym to help teach those that don't know how to play a sport or game proper technique. And it doesn't really cut back not to have the class... the students have to be somewhere..

Let's think about why the PE requirement exists: To promote physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle. Now, let's look and see if it could possibly be accomplishing that, given the current state of affairs: Even when still on the semester system, students only have PE for one semester, every other day. (approximate 4 months). On the new 4x4 schedule, students will have PE for NINE weeks, every day. Does this really accomplish the goals of the course requirement? And if a student is playing a high school or club sport where they play for longer stretches, and certainly for more hours a day, why not exempt them from the PE requirement? The point is VERY well taken, and should have been examined during the budget crisis this year.
As for the article - kudos to the kids for seeing a potential big cost savings that no one else did. Or did they, but were just too cowardly to go there, for fear of upsetting the apple cart with all the PE teachers in it? Furthermore, the 4x4 schedule is too flawed to go into here, and what is does to the PE option is only one very small problem of MANY MANY MANY big ones with the 4x5 schedule. The article shouldn't have been censored. If we didn't print anything with a typo in it, we'd print nothing anymore. There was an article in the last issue that did come out that listed one of the lacrosse attackmen as a goalie - I didn't see that article pulled for 'typos' or misinformation. I have liked Mr. Thomas so far, but shame on him for this one!

This story has absolutely nothing to do with P.E. It is only about censorship and whe school administrators have the duty or authority to take this step. For the Albemarle administration to suggest now that they made the decision based on typos or because P.E. Teachers couldn't respond to the editorial doesn't square with their initial reaction nor does it align with the law as it is presented in this article.

ahs stinks. the ahs newspaper stinks. it has pretty much always been of very bad quality because of the heavy administration oversight and lack of go-getter attitude by reporters.

"typographical errors" is a red herring. that's not at all the reason they pulled the paper.

can't wait for you high schoolers to get to college so you can finally have the opportunity you've been wanting to break some good stories!

I am a student athlete at AHS and find the PE requirement for athletes to be a bad one. PE has no benefit for the student athletes who already spend an hour and a half plus each day working on their respective sports. From my experience a weeks worth of practice is more exercise than a years worth of gym classes.
Also Gym can be potentially dangerous to people who are already physically active. For example, during the winter sports season I sustained a minor injury to my knee. I went to the trainers and they gave me exercises to do to help me heal and told me to take it easy for a week or two. When I told my coaches this they acknowledged my need for rest and let me only participate in activities that I felt were safe for me to do. However when I asked my gym teacher if I could sit out from running the mile due to this injury she told me that unless I had a note from a physician saying I was hurt I had to participate. I told her that I was seeing the trainer and that she could ask them if she had any questions or doubts about my injury and that I saw no reason to go to a doctor since i was already being treated and I did not want to burden my parents with the expense or consumption of time a doctors visit would take. I had to run the mile anyway regardless of the discomfort it caused me or the risk of re-injuring my knee. It is scary to think that the PE teachers care so little about our safety.

Censoring the editorial was wrong. Not 'fessing up' to why the editorial was pulled was wrong. Not using this as a teaching opportunity for the young staff of the student newspaper, resulted in a lose-lose situation.

A separate issue: If you have followed the link and read the editorial, tell me, is this representative of the expository writing skills of our HS students. Typos are the least of the problem, IMHO. No problem here with expressing one's opinion, but shouldn't a rising student editor have reasonable proficiency in writing basics? Or, am I just old-fashioned in that regard?

If the problem really was about typographical errors, then why didn't the advisor ask the kids to correct the typos and run the corrected, original story? The typographical error issue only came up after the stuff hit the fan and the school and its administration started to look bad. Same with the contention that the publication date didn't give the P.E. teachers an opportunity to respond. The editor was in the meeting when the decision was made to pull the story. He has said, pretty clearly, that neither were a consideration in pulling the issue and reprinting.

This problem has probably more received more ink than it deserves, but that's because the administration has handled it so poorly. Moreover, they have all but accused two of their student leaders of lying about this issue. Shame on the principal and shame on the advisor. They owe those two students an apology.

I just think it is hilarious what the county is trying to do to deal with this...sending out e-mails disparaging the students involved and trying to discredit them completely. Administrators need to face the music and deal with what they started, because they are just making themselves look even more foolish.

that Ellie chick is h.o.t HOT.

This blatant censorship is ridiculous. This is an issue that, at AHS at least, has been crying out for criticism. A typical gym class composes of at least 10 minutes changing, 20-40 minutes stretching and doing some of the most ridiculous dynamic stretches imaginable (walking on your tip toes or heels across the floor), then 20 minutes of walking and jogging(very slowly), a 5-10 minute jog, 10 more minutes of them telling us our entire schedule for the next two weeks(This is not a joke, they repeat everything a thousand times) Usually this leaves maybe 30 minutes for an activity, where most students do not exert themselves. Not only do I agree that student athletes normally receive more exercise from 10 minutes of practice, but our gym program could use a complete change to actually ensure that those students that are out of shape receive attention directed towards them.