Reading and writing and arithmetic.
Such was the focus of schools in the early days of the Davis School District. But as early as 1895, Superintendent D.O. Willey Jr. indicated there was also a need for physical training for students in Davis County's common schools. It was not required for graduation, however.
Once the schools consolidated into one district, even more emphasis was placed on fitness. From enlarging school playgrounds to starting up athletic programs in the high schools, physical education was gaining in importance.
In the 1960s, Davis School District jumped on board as nationwide youth fitness programs began with students receiving awards for achieving fitness standards. By 1966, the Davis School District hired a supervisor of physical education to oversee the program in five high school and seven junior high schools.
Today, elementary students spend about half an hour a week in physical education classes. Healthy Lifestyles Supervisor John Robison said it's only been in the last decade or so that a trained P.E. prep specialist was hired in the elementary schools. Not all school districts in Utah have such a luxury.
The emphasis on physical education increases as students enter secondary school. Junior high students are required to take a physical education course one semester per year in grades 7-9. For high school graduation, students must earn 1.5 physical education credits, including a personal wellness course, Fitness for Life.
Robison said in his nearly 40 years of teaching and overseeing physical education programs, he has seen the program change its focus in secondary schools. When he first started, he said P.E. was athletic-based. Students played basketball and volleyball and other sports. Today, students have more choices to fit their lifestyle, including Zumba, aerobics, and yoga. Body conditioning is also now available to male and female students and not just athletes, he said.
"It's moved in a direction to help the students in secondary schools have experiences that will teach them the kinds of activities they will have for the rest of their lives," Robison said.
Showing students how fitness can be fun is something the Davis School District has tried to focus on during the last several years. Robison said that includes the District Decathlon, which takes place May 22-23, at Viewmont and Northridge high schools respectively. The activity, which began last year, includes indoor and outdoor events.
Additionally, the next event in the district's ongoing Centennial Celebration will focus on fitness. On May 12, the district will hold the Davis Dash and Centennial Fair. The two events are part of the yearlong celebration of 100 Years of Learning for the Davis School District. The district was formed on July 17, 1911.
The Davis Dash includes 5k and 10k races as well as a Fun Run for children 8 and under. Online pre-registration is available at davis100.org. All races begin at Centennial Junior High, 740 S. Sunset Drive, Kaysville.
Elementary Administrative Intern Robert Kinghorn, one of the organizers of the run, said he thinks one of the best events of the day will be the Fun Run. For $5, children under age 8 get not just a T-shirt, but also the sense of finishing a "race."
"The whole goal is they're having fun, they're running," Kinghorn said. "If we can get them hooked on 'OK, I did a 1k at this young age in elementary,' a 5k is not going to seem like anything come junior high or high school."
Robison said it is only fitting that fitness be part of the Centennial Celebration because the Davis School District believes in educating the whole child.
"If we educate a kid to be a mathematician or physicist or teacher or accountant or lawyer -- doesn't matter what they choose -- as we help that child become a student and progress into the world of what they are going to be. Without their health, they don't have anything."
For more information about participating in the Davis Dash and Centennial Fair, contact Centennial Chair Suzanne Cottrell at 801-402-5173 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
Shauna Lund is the Communication Specialist for the Davis School District. For more information about the Centennial Celebration, go to www.davis.k12.ut.us/dsd/centennial