By Kaitlin Mayhew -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- Pupils at Shenandoah County's three middle schools may soon be able to roller skate in class -- during physical education class, that is.
Teachers at North Fork, Peter Muhlenberg and Signal Knob middle schools have all expressed interest in the "Skatetime" program, according to David Hinegardner, director of middle and secondary education for Shenandoah County Public Schools.
The program is designed specifically to fit into physical education curriculums. Schools can sign up for one- or two-week segments where Skatetime instructors will come and provide all the equipment, including skates, helmets and safety pads. If it's a school's first time with the program, the instructor also stays for a full day of instruction.
Skatetime does not cost anything extra for the schools involved. The cost for the equipment and instruction is passed on to the pupils in the form of a small fee.
Hinegardner said, from what he remembers, it ends up being around $6.
North Fork and Peter Muhlenberg middle schools both have participated in the program before, Hinegardner said.
"[The teachers] felt like it was a popular activity that the kids enjoyed doing, and they wanted to revisit their ability to offer it again," Hinegardner said.
Most of the teachers, according to Hinegardner, say the program is a good way to get pupils excited about physical activity.
"I just think they think it's another opportunity to help kids learn and enjoy a potential lifelong activity," he said. "We're always constantly searching for ways to engage kids and get them to enjoy physical fitness."
He said the county stopped the program at the two schools because of some uncertainty about whether all the roller skating was damaging the gym floors.
That was the same concern voiced by School Board members when the skating program was presented to them at their Nov. 8 meeting.
"I think I'm in the minority, but I don't agree with it," said Gary L. Rutz, who represents District 4.
He said he would be worried about damage in terms of scratches and marks over the years of skates on the floor.
Irving L. Getz, the District 5 representative, agreed.
"Right now I'm against it," he said. "Some of these floors we just had redone. We need to ensure that we don't have to go back and do that again."
He said he also has some concern about the safety of letting pupils roller skate during P.E. class.
"You can be as safety-minded as you can possibly be and sometimes you can't keep things from happening," Getz said.
Hinegardner said he understands the concern about the floors.
"We work so hard trying to keep the schools up and it's costly when we have to repair them," he said. "We do have to make sure we're not damaging the facility."
He said the school system plans to bring representatives from the company that restored the gym floors to the next School Board meeting in January to talk about the issue.
Even if the proposal is eventually approved by the board, it's unlikely Skatetime will actually appear in county schools until next year.
"They have a limited number of skating instructors and skates," Hinegardner said. "From what I understand it is a very popular program."