Gymnastics removed from Arundel curriculum due to decline in popularity

Photo by Yarmi Kalokoh

By Yarmi Kalokoh

As of this school year, Arundel’s gymnastics class is no longer offered as a Physical Education (P.E.) elective. Its removal, according to Mrs. Madden, PE Department Chair and former Gymnastics teacher, was decided last school year and prompted by shrinking class size and popularity. 

 The Gymnastics class, according to Madden, was first introduced in conjunction with the Arundel Gymnastics Team, which over the years became less popular and, as a result, was discontinued. The class remained filled up until a couple of semesters ago when it began to grow smaller and smaller, Madden explained.

 Madden, Principal Davenport, and the administration came to this conclusion when numbers for class size came out in February 2019. Madden says this outcome is “heartbreaking,” because Gymnastics used to be a consistently filled class with three sections.

“I have only one section of Gymnastics and all of that equipment takes up that entire P.E. space, so because there’s not a lot of kids in it any longer, we’re removing the class to give more gym space for all the other P.E. classes,” Madden said last spring in regards to the class’ removal. 

Arundel, according to Davenport, has been able to maintain Gymnastics for some time now, despite the countywide removal of substandard gymnastic equipment about five years ago, which ultimately led to the removal of Gymnastics class and competitive gymnastics teams across the county. As Davenport explained in an interview last spring, Arundel was able to obtain gymnastics equipment from other schools in order to meet AACPS standards and maintain the program. “The issue is that the interest has just really decreased, so we don’t have enough students to keep the class going,” Davenport said.

Phoebe Rowe, a senior and two year Gymnastics student, said in an interview last year that she took gymnastics because it was the “only interesting gym class” offered. “I don’t want them to take it away. The school offers more variety by having Gymnastics because there are smaller, different lessons, as opposed to Team Sports: Basketball where they only play basketball,” Rowe said.

In Gymnastics, as Madden explained, students learned and created skills and routines, then performed them for grades. They also self-assessed skill level using iPads and learned to judge like competitive gymnastics judges. 

Last year, Junior Kayla Holbrook, two year Gymnastics student, said this was her “favorite class,”  and that it made her happy to be in a class that she likes and in which she is focused. 

The class’ removal will allow for more space and resources for other P.E. classes, Madden says, and will help resolve scheduling and time conflicts.