Iowa Students Earn PE Credits by Doing Yard Work for the Elderly and Disabled

While most students look forward to playing basketball or running laps at the end of the school year, some have decided to make a change and bolster the community spirit.

Students at the Alternative Learning Center in Dubuque, Iowa, spent the last two weeks of school earning their P.E. credits differently.

By helping seniors or people with disabilities with their landscaping needs, students at the Alternative Learning Center (ALC) in Dubuque, Iowa, can now receive physical education credit.

During the last two weeks of school, as part of their school’s curriculum, students could choose to volunteer in various activities that will count towards their physical education credits.

The students do whatever homeowners need for about two hours daily, such as raking, pulling weeds, cleaning gutters, and cutting bamboo.

This program first started the program four years ago, after the school launched a garden, and it is highly beneficial for both, the students and the community.

The ALC aims to provide at-risk students an alternative to the traditional high school setting.

Project-based learning design principles are utilized to engage junior and senior high school students who have struggled to succeed at more traditional schools and have been identified as in danger of dropping out of school and to help them recover credits and get back on track with their graduation plans.

Tim Hitzler, the social studies teacher who started the program, explained that these students aren’t typically too excited at the beginning, but become more motivated once they get involved and start doing the yard work. He added that this is a good opportunity as they learn real-life skills. They work hard and are sweating when they’re done.

Some of the students have even volunteered to continue the community service over the summer, as they really like helping people.

Mike Cyze, a spokesperson for the Dubuque Community School District, says that 29 ALC students took part in the service program as part of their PE requirement, and Hitzler adds that 12 students signed up to do yard work specifically.

He says the program has become a community-building project that strengthened relationships, and students often got invited community members over for dinner and cookouts.