At Medgar Evers High School, in Brooklyn, New York, it is commonplace for students to run in the halls. They’re not late. They’re exercising.
That's because there is no gym at the relatively new building, constructed in 2000. But there are physical education requirements mandated by the state. So officials have gotten creative, turning the school’s basement halls into an indoor track, local news station PIX 11 reported.
Required to take eight semesters of phys ed, students hit the hallways to work up a sweat. “For the most part as you can see right now it’s very crowded and it’s hard to get certain things done, but at the end of the day right now we make the best of it,” track coach Shaun Dietz told PIX 11.
“It seems to me very shortsighted. When you build a building there should be a gym,” Pamela Wheaton of Inside Schools, told Yahoo News. The independent website provides information about New York City’s public schools.
Wheaton noted that the school, built adjacent to the campus of Medgar Evers College, was supposed to use the college gym. “In reality, they get very little access to the college campus,” she said.
The high school initially opened with fewer than 600 students and now has more than 1,100, according to Inside Schools, causing even more congestion for students trying to work out.
“I applaud them. They’re being so innovative. My concern is for change to happen, it has to come from the top,” Amy J. Schwartz, chair of the Physical Education Task Force for the Women’s City Club of New York, told Yahoo News. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization advocates for physical education to be a higher priority in the city.
Medgar Evers is not unique. A study earlier this year from the American Heart Association reported that out of 272 New York City schools, more than half were not in compliance with New York state law for physical education, according to NY1. And an audit by New York City Comptroller John C. Liu in 2011 concluded that “many elementary schools do not meet state guidelines for physical education.”
But it’s not all bad news for the high school. The academically rigorous program offers more than 20 Advanced Placement classes, and a girls' track and field team, notes the department of education, currently holds the title of city champs, according to PIX 11. The department of education told PIX 11 there are no current plans to add a gym to the school.