Marching band may count as physical education

A proposed law would allow marching band to be used as a physical education credit.

The time marching band members spend sweating it out on the practice field would satisfy physical education requirements if the Legislature passes a proposed law.

Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Camden, told his senate colleagues Wednesday that he introduced the bill after witnessing the long practices in the heat his youngest son goes through while participating in marching band. Sheheen said he was aiming to get more kids into music and also recognize the work they put in.

“My observation is that my son, who is in marching band, consistently for a longer period of time gets more exercise than my sons who have just one semester of PE, which is the requirement,” Sheheen said. “When these kids get into marching band, unlike a semester of PE, they end up staying three, four years. So they’re getting the exercise over that longer period of time.”

Camden High School Band Director Robert Spitler told senators his kids do warmups and calisthenics every day.

“I really think this would help band directors across the state, as far as getting people into the band program and helping them get physically active, as well,” Spitler said.

Burke High School’s Director of Bands Linard McCloud echoed Spitler’s remarks, adding that marching band practice is almost year-round because they’re participating in different ensembles.

“We’re trying to create a healthy person and healthy communities,” McCloud said. “It’s just really important that we seize all opportunity to have our kids be active.”

The bill cleared its first hurdle Wednesday when the Senate Education K-12 Subcommittee advanced the proposal with a unanimous vote. It still has to go through another panel before heading to the Senate floor for a vote.