FORTVILLE — Greg Roach has completed his fair share of research. And he has big plans for Mt. Vernon High School.

For the first time next school year, Mt. Vernon will offer physical education credits for students participating in various extracurricular activities such as athletics, band, cheerleading and dance.

The proposal was approved at a school board meeting on May 16, according to Roach, who currently serves as the high school’s assistant principal. In July, Roach will take on his new role as principal of Mt. Vernon.

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He began researching the idea approximately seven years ago, he said, when other large schools in Indiana began rewarding students for being active after school. And to get a better understanding of the situation, Roach sought advice from schools such as Avon, Hamilton Southeastern and Fishers.

“The thought about it coincided with our paid-to-participate fees,” Roach said. “If we are charging those fees for athletics, then you can’t get credit. Where we were financially, we needed to charge those fees.

“But we started to look at it again once we eliminated those paid-to-participate fees this past year, and it just makes sense to us.”

In order to obtain full credit, students must perform 75 hours of moderate to intense exercise during that particular season, which is approved by the coach or sponsor. It also gives everyone involved more flexibility.

“It is to give the kids already there a chance,” Roach said. “I think it will certainly encourage students to participate in sports and other activities like the dance team and band.

“On the other side of it, it should help free up some of our PE classes to where we can offer elective PE classes. Students also get freedom in their schedules.”

Roach said he believes other schools will begin adapting a similar structure, if they haven’t already.

Eastern Hancock, for example, has already been operating in a similar fashion for several years.

According to athletics director Aaron Spaulding, the Royals have offered PE credits to students participating in sports, cheerleading and marching band ever since he took the job in 2010.

In order to begin the process, students must register with the school’s guidance office. Single and dual sport students receive the same amount of credits, though, which is enough to complete their PE requirements for that school year.

“Most of our athletes are not in traditional PE classes that we do have,” Spaulding said. “They are in the advanced weight classes.

“Some kids still take them (the traditional classes), but they are typically not in athletics. As long as I’ve known we’ve done that.”

He also noted that Eastern Hancock has saved money by removing its summer PE classes, which were offered for several years at the school. But they required hiring a teacher.

“It also has been a bit of a money saver,” Spaulding said.

And in his several years around Eastern Hancock, Spaulding said he believes it has been nothing but rewarding for both the school corporation and its students.

“It gives kids other options,” Spaulding said. “If they want to take other courses, it frees up a period for them. Obviously if a kid is involved in a high school sport, they are getting plenty of exercise. The one downside is you are not getting exposed to numerous sports.

“But we still have our traditional PE at the middle school level.”

Around Hancock County, Greenfield- Central and New Palestine High Schools require students to complete a physical education course as part of their regular class schedule. New Palestine does offer an online course, as well.

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Kris Mills is a sports reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 317-477-3230 or kmills@greenfieldreporter.com.