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By Kourtney Webb

Any absolute dominant teenagers in high school gymnastics are probably training for the Olympics or something equally intense. Some athletes are just doing it for the fun of competition. Either way, public high school students depend on the flexibility of administrative staff, and funding of their programs to further their abilities.

Being an athlete takes discipline. Athletes spend long hours training, sweating, pushing their bodies to the limit in order to outperform all of their competitors. Every athlete is fighting for the top spot. This can be a lot of pressure for one person to handle. To be a student athlete, pile on homework assignments due yesterday, tests on topics the teacher hasn’t even taught yet, chores, friends, pimples and a social life.

Victoria Wilson, a student at LaGuardia High School in Manhattan, said she is going out for the school’s gymnastics team next year and was surprised to know gymnastics is offered at many public schools in New York.

“Gymnastics is not something people would expect,” said Wilson. “Maybe basketball or hockey but not gymnastics. I have been doing gymnastics outside of school for years and it really takes discipline. People don’t just go, ‘I want to be a gymnast’ overnight. That’s years of practice and hard work. The fact that some public schools offer gymnastics and the chance to compete is great.”

The first year vocal student also added, “Not everyone has the money to pay top coaches, dietitians and what not to train on their own, so having a team at school is big for some of us.”

Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, provides financial help to schools with a large number of children from low-income families. Tittle I states that schools that have many of these children receive more money. This is to ensure that all children meet demanding educational requirements. Without this funding to help with costs of teachers, guidance counselors and other staff, school resources and programs deemed “unnecessary” will be cut.

The Public School Athletic League has gymnastic teams competing from four high schools in Queens: Campus Magnet, Cardozo, Hillcrest and Long Island City.

Gymnastics requires its coaches to undergo rigorous safety certification training by USA Gymnastics, the sports authority in the country. Coaches also have to be very knowledgeable about the potential dangers and particular techniques for gymnastics equipment. In order to have good coaches in sports programs for schools, funding is a must.

There is concern that Secretary of Education Betsy Devos’ vision for a voucher-based education system for low-income students could cost New York City schools hundreds of millions of dollars in lost federal support and harm programs.

Aretha Perry, a teacher at PS 117 J. Keld Briarwood School said this could affect all the programs needed to foster creativity in kids.

“The voucher program is going to help slowly dismantle the public school system,” said Perry. “Our kids need good public schools, whether they are elementary schools or at the high school level. The voucher program is going to divert funds that could be used for better programs, the expansion of programs, staff or supplies for the schools.”

Schools need equipment for students to practice on and compete on for competitions. Gymnastics equipment can cost $20,000 or more. Without proper funding, schools could be forced to cut costly programs like gymnastics for more cost-effective options like soccer.

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