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Goodbye Hoops: Ball is No Longer Life

Basketball Outlawed in PHS Gym Classes

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Photo Courtesy of Ryan Ray

Walk into Peekskill and one of the first things you hear about our school community is basketball. Though our identity is more than that, as much as we are a talented, diverse and dedicated group of students in various aspects including acedmically, athletically, and creatively, a large amount of students can identify with the sport of basketball.
As aforementioned, we are much more than sports scores or test scores, but let it be agreed that a popular hobby/pastime/passion of some of our student body is this very sport.

Fast forward to the second to last week of the third quarter. Early this week, Principal Hutchinson made an announcement reiterating the electronic policy of no devices outside the cafeteria, citing “pressure” on the school’s administration and therefore pressure on students to follow the rules. (From whom or why was not divulged.) Later that week a “hall sweep” was called eighth period. Throughout lunch periods assistant principals could be found encouraging students to get their off campus permission slips signed or face consequences. All of sudden, once the 7:59 bell rings, all student entrance into the buliding through the cafeteria is halted by a seemingly never ending line to sign a piece of paper saying you’re late. Hypothetically you could arrive at school at 8:05 and not make it to class until 8:20, and passes are not given out until after 8:30. But that’s a story for another time. Needless to say, this past week there has been a substantial increase in the enforcement of certain code of conduct procedures.

Then, on Tuesday afternoon, the fight for rules was taken to the next level. A gym-full of students stood in shock at the sight of all six basketball hoops being wound up. The familiar orange balls were suddenly nowhere to be found. Just like that, a once integral part of several students lives was taken away. Why?

Supposedly, it was to discourage students who did not have gym from “cutting” their classes in order to “play ball.” Apparently, the administration thought that a good way to keep students in class and out of they gym when they weren’t supposed to was to completely eliminate the main distraction in it’s entirety.
Makes sense, right?

It is understandable that school is first and foremost a place to learn. But don’t you think a good way to keep students in class is to 1. encourage them to go, 2. Find those who aren’t there and 3. Have them face consequences?

Outside of the gym is a security guard post. Certainly they are capable of escorting students to the appropriate place if they are causing a disturbance? Shouldn’t the administration focus on getting kids INTO classrooms, instead of just OUT OF the gymnasium?
Does this not negatively impact the physical education of those students who were attending the correct gym period who find pleasure in playing basketball?

One of the most saddening scenes I’ve seen in my four years at PHS is a group of desperate fifth period peers attempt to shoot soccer and volleyballs into a sidewise hoop. Evidently, you can take basketball out of the school, but you can’t take it out of the students.

Even if basketball isn’t your thing (anyone who has seen me attempt to dribble knows it is not my speciality) you can still identify with something you appreciate being taken away without warning. For example, if you love to play the saxophone and all of a sudden saxophones were banned from the music department, you would get pretty annoyed. Likewise, if all of the paint was thrown out and you were only allowed to color in crayon in accelerated art you would probably be agitated. Our Lady Red Devils have won section championships three times in the last five years, with the state title in 2011. Our boys’ team has won several titles over the last decade as well, including state championships in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Those congratulatory banners shine in juxtaposition to pathetic wayward hoops. It’s sad.

It is one thing to enforce the rules, it is another to make up new polices detrimental to the spirit of the community.

At Peekskill we strive for excellence.
Nowadays, all we strive for is making sure we don’t have headphones and making sure we don’t show up late for fear of missing the majority of first period waiting in line. Now we strive to earn credit in gym by jumping rope. Now we strive to make sure we don’t miss a class, because too many absences results in ISS. In other words, the punishment for not being in class is being taken out of all eight periods.

Some adults in the building will blame us, the student body. They’ll blame us for bringing it upon ourselves. They’ll say it’s our own fault for being too easily distracted and not going to class.
Naturally, the best way to raise student moral is to blame the ones who are doing the right thing. (Sarcasm)
But will any adults blame themselves for not keeping certain people engaged?
Will any blame themselves when people stop showing up to gym and fail?
No, of course not. That’s why it’s up to us, the students, to take our education into our own hands and do what we have to do to graduate and get out of here.

Perhaps one day we won’t have to walk the halls in fear. Perhaps one day we won’t have to worry which activity will next be taken away from us. Perhaps one day we will be able to participate in basketball again, but until then, ball is most certainly no longer life.

Disclaimer: the above opinions rest solely with the author and do not represent the views of the other staff members/advisors.

Opinion: a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily formed from fact or knowledge.

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4 Comments

4 Responses to “Goodbye Hoops: Ball is No Longer Life”

  1. Tim Strang on April 4th, 2014 5:14 pm

    As a 1996 graduate of Peekskill High School and a member of the 1995, and 1996 State Championship teams I am saddened to hear what is happening here. I understand that kids need to go to class and should be there but, if they have a free period or no class and want to shoot hoops without disturbing another class it should be allowed. I can also remember teachers coming in to play basketball with us during free periods. It was good for the morale of the student. I became friends with teachers that I probably wouldn’t have even talked with had it not been for the shooting the ball around with us. If the student is doing something wrong and breaking the rules they he/she should be disciplined but, if they are doing nothing wrong let them play, let them be kids. Having fun and enjoying high school is all a part of the experience of becoming a young adult. The problem here is that the administration needs to flex its muscle because there has been so much change there over the years they feel that things are getting out of hand and way to much micromanagement. Good luck to the senior class and hopefully these rules change soon so the kids can enjoy there free time doing something that they love.

  2. Liz from the deli on April 4th, 2014 5:28 pm

    FINALLY! GOOD FOR YOU!!! STAND UP FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN! VOICE YOURSELVES!!! HOW BOUT PROM? I’D LOVE TO HEAR YOUR OPINION ABOUT THIS..AND THE REQUIRED PRACTICE THE NEXT MORNING…

  3. malinda knapp on April 5th, 2014 12:57 pm

    As a parent of a student that graduated in 2010 and playing on the phs basketball team and now I have nephews who were on the team during the season, the school has put soo many RULES that they are now trying to enforce them. Students have the right to speak about the changes and how they are being affected. Make changes for the better, not to imprison the students. Some of the change is not for the better; it’s making it worse!!!!!!

  4. Dottie on September 20th, 2014 11:52 am

    wow that is unbelievable, PHS has change so much and i am part of the class of 2012 and I was actually on the State champion team of LRD in 2011 , also a editor for the PHS mercury and one of the first writers (another story lol ), anyway i hope administration change their ways of trying to get these students into a classroom this year, this isn’t a coach carter movie, we understand the importance school and education but taking away a sport so valuable to a town is mind blowing,back when I was there , classes were interesting engaging and even being a student there was fun but now it seems like PHS has just turned into a prison, just entering seems like a complicated process, that would make you just want to dread the day as well. I am sure the teachers haven’t change much but how about actually talking to the students instead of punishing them right away,actually coming to the schools and getting to know the students. There are so many ways to attack this situation, high school should be fun, and interacting environment not dealt with like you guys are a bunch of animals or prisoners. I hope PHS straightens up.

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Goodbye Hoops: Ball is No Longer Life