Outcry Over Loss Of Dance For Physical Education Credit at Montclair High Sparks Petition

Montclair High School students are having a tough year.

First, they lose stairs in the Main building. Now, many Montclair High School students are learning that their current physical education dance classes are in jeopardy.

Montclair High School students planning for next year’s classes were surprised to learn that the option to take dance to fulfill their physical education requirement — something that has been a longstanding practice at the high school — may not be an option next year. Instead, dance would be offered as an elective, something that many students may not be able to fit in their schedule.

In response, a petition — Keep Montclair High School’s Dance Department Alive — was started.

The petition already has close to 400 signatures and students and parents are leaving comments to explain how this decision could negatively impact students.

One parent writes…”Montclair had produced professional dancers – many of whom got their start in a dance class in Montclair public schools. What will happen to the child who can not afford outside dance classes? This move is one that will close doors and limit opportunities for our Montclair kids – save our Dance programs!”

Expect the issue to be discussed tonight at the Montclair Board of Education meeting.

The petition states:

To whom it may concern,

As students at Montclair High School we are petitioning to keep the Dance Department alive. We recently were informed that dance will no longer fill a Physical Education credit and are asking for this to be reconsidered.

The dance room is a safe space for students to move, express themselves, and feel part of a community. We learn a wide range of styles and technique, as well as yoga and Pilates. Dancers at the high school gain confidence, strength, technique, flexibility, body awareness and artistry.

Every dance class at Montclair High School takes health for one marking period each year, adding up to the required credits by Senior year. Physical Education classes should be a way for students to form a healthy, active lifestyle. If students are not happy or comfortable in their physical education class, they will not be motivated or receive the benefits of a strong athletic life, thus instilling a negative connotation with exercise. Montclair High School’s dance classes deliver on the same objectives and criteria as physical education classes do.

For some people, dance class at the high school is their only chance to dance because they may not have the time or money to take classes outside of school. In a community like Montclair which is so immersed in the arts, dance is a valuable class to be able to enjoy.

Montclair High School’s students must focus on the often rigorous curriculum of their classes and prepare for college, and life ahead. This means it is vital for them to use every chance offered to take courses that will fulfill their required elective credits. With dance offered only as an elective, most students won’t have the place in their schedules to accommodate a dance elective. The students and Montclair community would surely be upset if the long standing and well respected dance department comes to an end, which is a real possibility under the proposed changes

With these thoughts in mind, we hope you will rethink the decision to take dance out of the physical education field and keep the wonderful dance program going.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

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  1. What are the goals of Phys Ed besides teaching good habits to keep the body strong, healthy, and sometimes the value of team play? Who really thinks that dancers don’t work as hard as football or basketball players? If the Board of Ed want to discuss anything, how about what we can do to prevent concussions in our impact sports. Now that is an issue that is important, letting our students have more choice in how they learn how use their bodies should be settled policy by now.

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