Physical Activity in the Classroom: Reflection

As I was in high school, I never had to worry about the amount of time I spent getting my daily exercise. I was a three sport athlete for as long as I could remember, and I had gym every day growing up. To me, physical exercise was just part of my day.

When I saw some of the stats from children today, and how they exercise, it really shocked me. Only 29% of students go to gym class daily? That’s crazy! And only 27% exercise 60 minutes a day? And then I started thinking about myself. When was the last time I really worked out? It’s honestly been almost a month ago.

Understanding it’s hard for students to get a full 60 minutes of exercise daily if they aren’t an athlete was something I had trouble with. Because I went to such a small school, it’s hard for me to get a grasp on the fact that not everybody is an athlete. Having said that, I believe it’s much harder than it seems to get students active during the day. One of the ideas that I read about was having students take physical breaks in the classroom. Shot ones, between five and twenty minutes. I think that this would work in younger classrooms, but how do you expect to take twenty minutes out of a hour-long class period for your students to regroup? It’d make teaching that much harder, especially if every teacher did this.

Another idea that was brought up was to make an after school program that allows for students to participate in activities that promote healthy lifestyles. Where I come from, we had something like this that was run by the local recreation department, which I worked for. Every day, we would take students up to the community indoor pool. This was one of the easiest, most efficient ways of getting students the physical activities they need, because they didn’t even think they were getting exercise. With this program, however, came a grant from a local donor which allowed the recreation staff to be paid. It would be hard to convince teachers and faculty of a school to go over the top to get children something like this, especially on a salary-paid basis. Also, finding somewhere to take the kids that can be used year-round would be very difficult. We were lucky we had the local pool at our disposal.

 

I will agree 100% that students need to get the physical exercise that their bodies are craving, but it’s a lot harder than it looks. Having a CPAP means that there needs to be involvement all around, from teachers to parents. Inclusion, safety of students, and some sort of payment plan would be just a few of the bigger speed bumps a program like this would hit. It’s awful that these are issues in today’s schools, but there’s no way around it.

Who Am I?

My name is Justin Siewierski, and I grew up in northern New Hampshire. Plymouth is not northern New Hampshire, by the way. Colebrook, my hometown, is home to 2,300 people, and most of them have ties in Canada. I was an athlete in Colebrook, but think that was just the term used to describe anyone that tried to play one of the three varsity sports the high school had to offer. I graduated with 26 other students, five of whom are still enrolled in a four university. Where I came from has a lot to say about who I am.

Someday, I’d like to be a writer. Maybe for a newspaper, to start. I love children, and someday I’d also like to teach. But I want some real-life experience, first. I want to teach students what I’ve learned in the real world, not what my textbook tells me to teach them. I want to show them why they should be in school, and how to engage in things like Shakespeare and Poe. Someday I’d like to have a group of students respect me based on my merit, and what I’ve achieved in my life. I want to show them that they can do whatever they want to do.

If I were to classify myself in terms of development, I’d say I’m an emerging adult. I don’t really know where I fit yet, and where I see myself in two years gives me that type of anxiety that you fix with a paper bag. I consider myself an adult on the sole basis that I’m no longer a teen, but I haven’t figured out how to actually adult. Maybe next year.

I’m 5’8″, and I used to have an athletic body type. Staying healthy is a huge problem for me, because of how engaged I am at Plymouth State. It’s a lousy excuse, but I use it quite often. I run The Clock, Plymouth’s student-run newspaper, and I’m part of the broadcast team for Plymouth Athletics. Between those two, I usually find an hour or two a day where I have some free time.

I always eat, on my free time.

I do my best to run a couple days a week, however, and that helps manage my stress as well as make me feel like I’m not so tubby after all. It bothers my knees to run due to what’s called a bipartite patella, which I was born with, but I do the best I can to make sure I stay fit.

Emotionally, I really would say that I’m pretty stable, but there’s definitely room for improvement. I don’t allow myself to get too aggravated over things, but in turn I end up blowing my top on one or two unlucky fellas. I express myself to everybody, however, and they usually can tell what kind of mood I’m in based on my expressions.

I have a hard time being relaxed, and almost everything in my life stresses me out. Deadlines stress me out, buying food stresses me out, reading about something stressful stresses me out. With that said, it stresses me out if there’s any sort of safety issue, if there is someone smoking around me, or if I see someone littering. As anxious about life as I can be, it does have its up sides.

If I were to change anything, it would be to find more time to relax and be myself. If I’m not at school, I’m home working as much as I can. Although money is a necessity, I want to find time to improve my health. I want to relax and enjoy my life more. My family has a long line of high blood pressure, and I want to try to fight that in myself as much as I can. I also want to start eating healthier. Hopefully, that will come with the free time I have, because I really don’t know what to cook that’s healthier than what I already consume. I’m sure anything is a step in the right direction once I stop eating at the Hannaford’s wing bar twice a week, though.

Today’s Media

My daily routine goes as follows: wake up, open the coffee shop, close the coffee shop, run, eat, and sleep. Seven days a week. I run inside because I can’t breathe when it’s this humid, which means I usually turn on my TV. For the past week, every station on my television has been filled with some sort of “black media.” I call it that, not because I primarily watch ESPN, but because it’s all there is to talk about.

Or is it? See, with all the police brutality, and the ‘Black Lives Matter’ rallies, and state representatives that call out the ones who protect us, am I the only one who thinks that this isn’t news anymore?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not racist. I’m not here to tell you that this country isn’t one of the most racist countries there is. That should be blatant to you at this point.  What I’m telling you is that our media picks and chooses when to push the race card, and that it needs to stop.

When a student at my university died last fall, the news editor for the school’s newspaper told me something that I will never forget, in hopefully what will be a long journalism career. The words she used were simple: suicide contagion. The idea that if a death is worded improperly in print, someone may decide to take it to a different level. The idea that someone might believe that the death being reported on is getting too much attention; perhaps, more attention than they are.

When Eric Garner first died in 2014, almost everyone on TV had an “I can’t breathe” shirt on. Kobe Bryant wore his instead of his warm-up jersey, and Ryan Seacrest swam in his, probably because it was too big. Today, people are using hashtags like #PhilandoStrong to support the live-stream of him getting shot by an officer. Protests emerge. Riots ensue. People die. Innocent protesters, heroic cops, black people, white people, dead. Is that classified as suicide contagion? Ask yourself.

I had to write a story about a student that was killed in a motor vehicle accident. I knew this student, and where he was from, and his family and friends. And it was one of the hardest things I had to do in college to this point. When it was released, my mailbox was full of dumb questions. “Was he drinking?” “Was he speeding?” “WMUR said he was drinking, why didn’t you put that in your story?” And I thought to myself, “these people got into college?” To me, it didn’t make sense. But to an idiot, they wanted to know because it was useless to them. Does anyone really care if Alton Brown, or Eric Garner, or Philando Castile had a criminal record? The honest answer to that, of course, is no. So why is it reported?

Suicide contagion is why. People want to get the attention, even for something they aren’t a part of. Wearing a shirt that says “I Can’t Breathe” isn’t going to stop racism any more than a leaked video of a black man getting shot will. CNN, FOX News, ESPN, ABC, MTV, or CMT will not end racism by showing this stuff weeks after the incident has occurred. People can end racism by simply not being racist anymore, as crazy of a idea as that might be.

White cops have been killing black people for years. It’s awful, and it’s true. Not every cop is a racist pig, and that is also true. The culture and society that us Americans live in does not support or believe in the truth. Don’t believe me? Look at our two presidential candidates. A racist and a liar. The media promotes all of this, because it’s what people want to see. And that’s the truth.

 

Everyone Has A (Facebook) Friend Like This

If you’re anything like me, you add just about anyone who requests you. You’ll probably do it for your own pleasure. If you want to compare your shitty life to someone else’s, all you have to do is type their name into the search bar and an instant smile comes across your face. And, you can’t ‘decline’ grandma Jean, who just turned 85 and wanted to “do a Facebook, or whatever the hell it’s called.” Unless they’re 12, or you have zero mutual friends with them, you usually accept their request. I recently looked through my friends on Facebook and decided to make a list of people who I’ve added through the years. You’ve probably added a couple of them, too.

Relatives (Who Comment of EVERYTHING)

I personally don’t have one of these, and I’m sure glad I don’t. BUT, my friends have them and it’s an actual living hell. These friends are usually ones that comment on your latest picture with “what a handsome man! XOXO Was that taken in Santa Clara?” or “Stephen, nobody needs to see what beer you’re drinking! Be safe honey!”

Your High School Friends

When you first made this thing, it was because everyone in high school (or middle school) had one, and you wanted to fit in. These ‘friends’ are most useful when it comes to comparing weight, life choices, and grammar mistakes. Keep these ones, you’ll need them when your life sucks and you need a comparison. Which is always.

Ex-Girlfriend/Boyfriend

This one is usually in the high school friends category, but it needed one of its own.. You’re always comparing yourself to whoever they’re with, for better or worse. 90% of the time you search their name around 1:30 AM when you can’t sleep to see how awful their life has gotten (even if they got skinnier and are doing better than you, you’re convinced otherwise). This will happen every couple days until you find a new boyfriend/girlfriend.

Friends Who Post Sweet Pictures of Their 1997 Dodge Ram/Honda Civic/Subaru Legacy

Sweet whip homie. Not only does this friend drive around town enough to burn through a tank of gas a day, but they also post numerous pictures of their ride every day. They usually remind everyone that “my parents didn’t pay for this,” or that they “just installed the turbo in my Civ.” Awesome, that turbo’s probably going to rattle out your entire engine and your frame is completely Bondo’d. (Bonus: Civic/Legacy owner also vapes… well, probably. See category below).

 

Stoners (Or Vapers) 

Honestly, majority of the people I go to school with smoke, at least occasionally. Which I don’t mind. However, everyone has that friend that posts 18 pictures a day of their new piece (or if you vape: vape mod, vape juice, vape skin, vape accessories, vape life). We get it. You do illegal shit. Most other people in high school/college do. One occasional picture/post should remind people that you smoke (or vape, vape life, vape mod, vape skins, vape juice, just bought a new Subie, it’s a ’96 Legacy with super low mileage). Keep these friends, too.

 

 

Friends Who Are ‘Growing Up’

From having babies, to getting married, to buying homes, to having a real job, you have a friend your age doing one of these. Meanwhile, you’re sitting on your couch in your apartment, single, drinking a Heineken and eating a cupcake at 2:30 in the afternoon and (still) looking a job with your liberal arts degree.

Friends Who Still Haven’t Moved Out Of Their Parents Place

With the above, comes this. As your scroll through your newsfeed and see one friend getting married, the post directly below it shows how Billy just beat Tomb Raider 7 for the 10th time (“It just keeps getting better!”). Like Marcus from “The Benchwarmers,” this Facebook friend might also make pterodactyl sculptures out of peanut butter and cast spells at any visitors who enter the basement.

Friends Who Still Live In Their High School Days

Most of their posts start off with something like “#tb to the days I dropped 30 points over our rival senior year.” There are a few exceptions to posting something like this: if you’re under 21, or if you’re pro. Most of these friends work at the local McDonald’s. Full time. (Bonus: If you’re friends with the parent of the high schooler, who also lives in their children’s glory days).

Friends Who #Hashtag on Facebook

If their account isn’t linked to Twitter, they’re probably the category above, or middle aged. Or both.

People Who Post Their Blog Through Their Own Social Media 

Attention whores, like me.

Dear High School Superstar

Dear High School Superstar,

I want you to know that life is going to change. It isn’t going to be what it was, and you need to be ready for that. Your life is adverse enough, so I’m sure you’ll understand. Right?

Soon enough, you’ll be walking through your new campus, excited about what your future has in store for you. You might be thinking, “can I start as a freshman?” Or maybe, “will I break the 1,000 point mark here, too?”

You’re going to walk through the hall to your first class and realize that nobody knows who you are. Teachers won’t be asking you how many points you had last night, or how many strikeouts you threw. They won’t let you pass in a homework assignment two weeks late because you’re the quarterback and you need to win the Friday. And if you skip four or five classes, you won’t here your teacher say “don’t worry about it.” In fact, your teacher might not even realize that you’re missing.

If you make the team (if, being the key word) you’re going to realize that college athletics aren’t the breeze you think they are. You’re going to see that when you’re in season, you hardly have time to sleep. Why? Because you have 6 AM lift, class from 8-2, study hall from 2-3, and practice from 4-7. Two games a week, at least. If you’re really good, you might play a quarter of the game, Coach isn’t going to sit an upperclassman because you can hit wide open shots from way downtown, or hit wide open receivers against mediocre defenses.

Athlete, I’m not bitter. I want to warn you. You very well may have what it takes to be a college athlete. You might even be good enough to play after college. If you can, that’s amazing. But if you can’t, you can’t. And that’s okay too.

As a high school athlete, I was never the top scorer in every game. I wasn’t the best shooter, hardest thrower, fastest runner, or hardest hitter. I was a teammate, and I understood my role. You, athlete, as the superstar, need to realize your role, too. You are also a teammate. Respect your teammates, because soon enough, those teammates won’t be yours anymore. If you play in college, you’re going to have new teammates. Some of them might not pass you the ball because they don’t think you’re as good as you think you are.

Remember that time you didn’t hit that wide open receiver, because you didn’t like him? You won that game so it didn’t matter, he wasn’t very good anyways. Or that time you had your teammate wide open on the three point line, but decided to force up your 18th shot of the game… in the first half. She might have hit her last three shots, but it didn’t matter to you. As long as you got your buckets it didn’t matter. What about the time coach told you to run a play, but you didn’t? You ran the one you wanted. You weren’t benched for it, even if you knew your coach was livid.

And now it starts to hit you. You don’t feel like it’s worth it anymore, you feel depleted. All that time and effort, and for what?

If you ever get to this point, remember why you’re going to school. You might play ball all four years of college, but what next? It’s not going to last forever. And then you’ll realize that you might have picked a dumb major; one that you didn’t really like, but knew it was easy. And you might end up going back home, living in mom and dad’s basement, and watching old game tapes.

Athlete, I know that the above statement is a bit extreme, but be aware that it’s certainly a reality. What I want you to know is that there is more to life than throwing the most passing yards in a single season, or scoring 1,000 points. You have a whole life to live. Don’t relive four years of your life forever, because you’ll miss the things that are the most important.

Sincerely,

Someone who almost was

What American History Has Taught Me, pt. 2

I’m going to try to end on a good note here.

Maybe my lens on life is a little scrunched up. I have a very pessimistic view on things, and I think I’ve finally accepted it. It’s okay, too. I don’t mind anymore. I’m the person that loves to squeeze the shit out of a lemon, but at least I enjoy the lemonade afterwards. When it gets down to it though, I do care about stuff. So if you’ve read part one of this sub-par blog post, you would know that all I really did was bitch and complain about the Spanish settlers. Now, I’m going to (attempt) to cover the things that really hit me in the feels.

  1. Jonathan Edwards. You had to have known that this is someone I would follow up on one last time. This guy put me through feelings I never thought I had. No, I don’t mean sexually. I read all of Edwards with a smile on my face, and there wasn’t a damn thing anyone could have done about it. I mean, honestly. This guy was born in the wrong time. With all the new sketch religions coming out now, this guy deserves his own special place in the HOF. I read “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” in high school, but I had never thought there would be someone willing to do things only you can do behind closed doors. I’ve talked quite enough about Jonathan Edwards for one semester.
  2. Anne Bradstreet. Now, I’m not one that really pays a whole lot of attention to feminism. I’ll be real honest with you. I think that if there ever were to be something I should vote on to pass a right to make women as equal to men as possible, you could sign me up. But as a male in college with 346653 things to do and a daily basis and some semblance of a social life to live, it really is the last thing on my mind. Anne Bradstreet made me change my mind, a little. The works that I read (“The Author to Her Book,” “The Flesh and the Spirit”) made me realize that there really are some bad bitches out there in the 17th century. I would have taken Anne out for a drink, pay for everything, given her a ride home, had a real close heart-to-heart, and drive away into the abyss without asking for her to show me around her place. Because that’s what she would have wanted. “I am obnoxious to each carping tongue /Who says my hand a needle better fits. /A poet’s pen all scorn I should thus wrong; /For such despite they cast on female wits, /If what I do prove well, it won’t advance– /They’ll say it was stolen, or else it was by chance” (OpenAmLit). Men, she owned you.
  3. Edgar Allan Poe. Now, the only reason why I skipped through all the writers during the enlightenment period was mainly because I hated it. Like, hate hate. Yes, that was the period that defined the United States for being independent, and free. But, dammit was it boooring. You go from those schmucks, to this. A creepy Edgar Allan Poe, hiding bodies, hanging cats, making orangutans kill innocent people. You can’t make it up.

That’s really about it. I can only write about things I like for so long…

What American History Has Taught Me, Pt. 1

I wanted to separate this into two parts; the things that were cool, and the things that sucked. Since I’m 90 percent pessimistic 100 percent of the time,  I think it would be fun to start off by all the dumb, tacky shit we once thought about American history that was debunked by college.

  1. Columbus was in fact an idiot. I did indeed know that he was trying to get to India and landed here. It’s a pretty honest mistake to make, considering he thought the world was flat and was really pulling the voyage out of his ass. After finding out that he was indeed a racist and a pig, he also has quite a way with words, as described in his Third Voyage to America: ” But as I have already described, I have now seen so much irregularity, that I have come to another conclusion respecting the Earth, namely, that it is not round as they describe, but of the form of a pear, which is very round except where the stalk grows, at which part it is most prominent; or like a round ball upon part of which is a prominence like a woman’s nipple, this protrusion being the highest and nearest the sky, situated under the equinoctial line, and at the eastern extremity of this sea…  but this western half of the world I maintain is like half of a very round pear, having a raised projection for the stalk, as I have already described, or like a woman’s nipple on a round ball” (OpenAmLit). Usually when I write and use a reference like this, I try to use it maybe just once, but whatever.
  2. Staying on track, Don Antonio De Otermin was also kind of a douche (this will be reiterated in the native’s perspective in part 2). I’m still unsure as to why there was any human being out there that could be so cruel. it really surprises the hell out of me. De Otermin and his band of idiots came into native lands, Christianized them, and proceeded to wonder why the indigenous tribes not only killed their religious hierarchies, but wanted wage war against them. “He came back from thee after a short time, saying that his people asked that all classes of Indians who were in our power be given up to them, both those in the service of the Spaniards and those of the Mexican nation of that suburb of Analco. He demanded also that his wife and children be given up to him, and likewise that all the Apache men and women whom the Spaniards had captured in war be turned over to them, inasmuch as some Apaches who were among them were asking for them… Seeing his determination, and what they demanded of us, and especially the fact that it was untrue that there were any Apaches among them, because they were at war with all of them, and that these parleys were intended solely to obtain his wife and children and to gain time for the arrival of the other rebellious nations to join them and besiege us, and that during this time they were robbing and sacking what was in the said hermitage and the houses of the Mexicans, I told him (having given him all the preceding admonitions as a Christian and a Catholic) to return to his people and say to them that unless they immediately desisted from sacking the houses and dispersed, I would send to drive them away from there. Whereupon he went back, and his people received him with peals of bells and trumpets, giving loud shouts in sign of war” (OpenAmLit). That literally sums up the entirety of the Spanish/native contact. The natives ask for a bit of freedom and their loved ones, the Spaniards say that will never happen, and they go to war. Luckily, the natives won this one out, but I can’t imagine how many times ignorant deals like this went down.
  3. The entirety of Cabeza De Vaca made me chuckle. It’s one of those stories that you can’t make up. Boats being lost, famine and disease taking out like the majority of the crew while the rest were killed by natives… and to go from that to settling with them, and to then pissing them off again. The last thing he has to say is “Even to the last, I could not convince the Indians that we were of the Christians…” (OpenAmLit).

And that last line really takes care of the rest of it for me. See, I liked the rest of American Literature. I think that it really broadened my scope on knowledge. But I hated this stuff. And I’ll be honest, I didn’t pay nearly enough attention to it. I hated how Christianity ruined the beginnings of our country. This stuff makes me sick. The Puritan age and the Jonathan Edwards reign is hilarious, but this is awful.

It makes you wonder why we hate the Muslims in today’s world, doesn’t it?

 

*mic drop*