Dr. Darcy Benway, superintendent of schools for O’Fallon Township High School has proposed cutting the boys’ and girls’ swim and lacrosse programs. Currently there are 17 young men involved in the boys’ swim team, and 23 young ladies were on the girls’ swim team during the fall 2016 season. The school’s estimated cost for the swim programs combined is approximately $12,000 as quoted from Benway. This amounts to roughly 1 percent of the total OTHS operating budget for the current school year.
Exercise has a profound impact on cognitive abilities and the mental health of our students. Physical activity creates an unparalleled stimulus, creating an environment in which the brain is ready, willing, and able to learn. Many of these swimmers have spent the majority of their young lives devoted to hours in the pool with the hope of continuing their swimming endeavors beyond high school. What is really being taught with swimming is a lifestyle. Swimmers are developing healthy habits, skills, and a sense of fun, along with the knowledge of how their bodies work.
At a time when the public is bombarded with news of overweight, unmotivated, and underachieving adolescents, sports such as swimming offers real hope to many of the students at OTHS. Exercise unleashes a cascade of neurochemicals and growth factors that can physically bolster the brain’s infrastructure. I implore the board members of OTHS to consider voting down the proposed budget cut to eliminate the swim teams. There has to be a better way to cut 1 percent from the budget for the 2017-2018 school year.
Dr. Julie Meyer, O’Fallon