SK schools getting new gym equipment

In 1978, metal shop teacher Chuck Jesch was asked to use his machines to build weight sets for 13 “power stations” at South Kitsap High School and several local junior high schools to benefit physical education classes and sports teams.

Today — and thousands of students later — the schools are finally getting an upgrade.

South Kitsap School District voted on June 5 to spend $257,967 on new fitness equipment for weight rooms at four South Kitsap schools. The new equipment, purchased from Forza Strength Systems in Spokane, will give Cedar Heights, John Sedgwick and Marcus Whitman Junior high schools 14 updated strength and free weight stations and expand weight training to include endurance fitness machines at the high school.

“This is a unique time for physical education across the state,” said South Kitsap High head football coach and physical education teacher D.J. Sigurdson, who is overseeing the upgrade this summer.

This year marks the first that physical education will be included as part of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) testing. The written test will be mandatory in 2008.

“All school districts are aligning their PE curriculum with the state standards,” Sigurdson said. “This will help us to do that better.”

Equipment bids also were taken from companies in Everett, Schiller Park, Ill., Jefferson, Iowa and Houston, Texas. Forza had the low bid.

In addition to “selectorized” equipment and free weights, the upgrade will include rubber flooring similar to the materials used in most West coast gyms. Marcus Whitman Junior High will get an additional teaching station, Sigurdson said.

Officials contend sports teams and physical education classes keep the weight rooms at all four schools, especially the high school, constantly occupied.

At a time when reports show an increasing number of middle and high school students have poor physical fitness, the new equipment will help “increase energy” among students to get in shape, Sigurdson said.

“You can’t just tell kids ‘go out and run.’ You have to spend money on fitness,” Sigurdson said. “This is a huge commitment by the district in recognizing that kids here and across America aren’t as physically fit as they should be.”

Students in physical education classes next school year will be able to use the new weights as part of a fitness “circuit” in fitness labs designed to emphasize muscle strength and endurance training. The equipment should be fully installed before the new school year begins.

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