Gym-less high school students forced to run in hallways for physical education

BROOKLYN (PIX11) - It’s a school with a championship track team despite having little room to run.  Rather than a gym, students at Medgar Evers High School are forced to run up and down the hallways to meet their Physical Education requirements.

But with more than 1200 students now packed into the school, parents say it’s time their kids are given the resources they need.

“The students are required to have eight semesters of physical education, and without the proper facilities that becomes a great challenge.”

Since the building opened in 2000, the faculty and staff say they’ve been promised a gym and an auditorium.

More than a decade later they don’t have either.

So students run, lunge, and kick up and down the basement hall to make sure they meet the requirements for graduation.

“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,” said track coach Shaun Dietz.

Parents here at Medgar Evers say not having a gym is once again becoming a hot-button issue thanks to record enrollment.  When the school first opened there were fewer than 600 students.  Today that number has more than doubled.  And that means the hallways are a lot more crowded.”

“As a parent, as a human being I think it’s unacceptable,” said parent Marcia Driggs. “People forget what was promised, but we’re going to remind them: we need a gym.”

Women’s City Club Physical Education Task Force Chair Amy J. Schwartz agrees.

While she applauds the students and faculty for making do with what they have, the blame, she says, belongs at the top.

“They are not being given the resources that they are required to have.  And the problem lies less with the schools, less the principals, but more with the leadership of the Department of Education,” Schwartz said.

A spokesperson for the DOE says the school offers a variety of physical education classes that incorporate different skills and noted that not all students are forced to run the halls for gym class.

In a statement she told PIX 11 News, “The school also alternates PE classes from the college to the basement so that students get a full range of team sports such as basketball and volleyball at the college and track and field activities in the basement of the High School.”

The DOE also noted the success of the track and field team including a girls’ team that currently holds the title of city champs.

But students say that just shows what the team might be able to accomplish if they had the proper room to run.

“I think that we’re pretty good, so with a gym we’d probably be even better,” said student Kyle Pierre.

Unfortunately, right now the DOE says there are no plans to add a gym at the school.

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