The Urban School introduces PAs during the school day

This Fall, U Periods were introduced to the Urban School weekly schedule as a way to relieve the stress of academic life through non-graded courses about subjects students are interested in, including physical activities. Students made U Period selections last spring.

Physical Activity U Period classes include basketball, choreography, hip hop dance, pickleball, soccer, strength and conditioning, and yoga. Not only do these U periods offer the chance to be physically active during the school day, they give students a chance to earn half of an athletic credit. Athletic credits are given to each student when they participate in a sport or PA class, and 8 credits are required to graduate.

Regardless of the opportunity to earn half of an athletic credit, many students said they signed up for these specific U period classes because they looked fun or it was something new they wanted to try. Robyn Wadsworth (‘21), who’s in the choreography class, said, “I use this time to release all of my stress of the week”. However, some students disagree. Sofia Marquez-Gomez (‘21), a student in the hip-hop class, said that she hasn’t “really enjoyed it because I now know that dance isn’t for me.” However, Marquez-Gomez also recognized that she is able to use this time to make new friends and be active despite thinking that she would enjoy a different sport more.

Some students purposely choose specific U periods to get some extra practice during the school day. Andrew Aroutynov (‘20), player on the Urban boys’ varsity soccer team as well as a student in the soccer U period, said, “it’s definitely a more chill type of class compared to practice. There’s a difference in intensity which stands out.”  

Brandie Norris, hip hop teacher, says that her class allows students to let go of stress through physical activity. She said that some students are “afraid to move … and I feel like my class … gives them a little bit more freedom to be, just to be free.” Many students agree with Norris, believing that their U periods take stress off their academic day but is not relaxing in the same way as the other less physical options. Noa Sokatch (‘20), a student in the hip-hop class, said, “The routines can actually be difficult so sometimes it’s stressful to keep up, yet the stress goes away after the U period is over.” Any possible stress induced by a U period  is only temporary compared to academic stress, and the brief challenge in a U period allows students to take a break from being focused on schoolwork all day.