OXFORD — The SAD 17 Board of Directors on Monday night approved a 51-page revised physical education curriculum that educators hope will set students on a path of lifetime fitness.

The new curriculum, which was inspired by the $1.2 million Physical Education Program grant the district received in 2011, was last revised in 2001. Before that it was in 1970.

The grant provided the district with money to purchase heart rate monitors, kayaks, canoes, rock climbing walls, cross country skis and set up fitness rooms.

“We’ve really been through a very intense process,” Physical Education Department head Jen Cash told directors. “The $1.2 million PEP grant allowed us to have curriculum the way we wanted to because we had the money to back it up with.”

The new curriculum does not eliminate sports, but rather emphasizes fitness as a lifelong goal.

“We’re still doing all the traditional activities and sports but we’re concentrating on learning the skills versus the game,” she said. For example, instead of 27 children each waiting a turn to bowl, the children may sit in tandem and learn the art of rolling a ball accurately, said Emily Ellis, who teaches elementary physical education.

At the middle school level, teacher Mark Smith said students are involved in a lot of activities where students can explore fitness, such as mountain biking or rock wall climbing.

Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School physical education teacher Mike Loveless said physical education has undergone a “drastic” change that emphasizes fitness since the new equipment arrived.

“I think we’re really giving (students) a good start for what they should consider for the rest of their life,” he said.

The mission of the new curriculum, which was also unanimously approved by the Curriculum Committee earlier in the evening, is to provide quality physical education that is preparing children to be physically active, healthy and productive adults.

Cash said the curriculum is closely aligned with state and national standards and coincides with the district’s Habit of Work and Learning philosophy that stresses respect, responsibility and perseverance.

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