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The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

Students encounter challenges in attaining wellness credit

Earning a wellness credit as a junior or senior playing a sport outside the high school is a lengthy process, requiring a full schedule, various signatures, frequent check-ins and a project.

Six days a week, three hours a day, senior Clara Delcamino-Yang is figure skating. A novice skater for the Elite Edge Skating Club, Clara spends the majority of her free time preparing for competitions, traveling to and from the rink, and perfecting triple toes.

Despite Delcamino Yang’s considerable time commitment to her sport, she has found herself in a dilemma when it comes to fulfilling the school’s required wellness credit.

Clara’s story is a shared reality for many students. Many athletes participating in non-sanctioned sports, sports not regulated or proctored by the high school, are frustrated by not being able to fulfill the required wellness credit in the same way a student participating in a sport at the high school would.

As per the BHS Course Catalog, if a student wishes to receive wellness credit for any outside physical activity, they’re able to request what is called an After-School Physical Activity Contract. Earning a wellness credit through the contract is a lengthy, multi-step process.


Students begin the process of attaining the contract by contacting PSB K-12 Wellness Education Curriculum Coordinator Carlyn Uyenoyama. Before Uyenoyama can approve a student for an After-School Physical Activity Contract, she first makes sure they meet the qualifications.

Since freshmen are required to take Lifetime Wellness, the After-School Physical Activity Contract is only available to sophomores, juniors and seniors. Additionally, students who have any free blocks in their schedule to fill with a wellness course are also automatically ineligible.

According to the BHS Course Catalog, the purpose of the contract is to offer students “a 10th, 11th, or 12th grade student with no room in their schedule (blocks A-G) to take a Wellness Education course for the entire year, and who participate in and instructional program for an activity that is not offered at the BHS.”

According to the BHS Course Catalog, if the student faces extenuating circumstances that may prevent them from taking a wellness course, they may be given other options. Senior Justina Wang, who practices karate outside of school, was able to qualify for the contract, despite having half a free block in her schedule.

“When I first talked to Ms. Uyenoyama, she wasn’t going to give it to me because I had space in my schedule for Z block Yoga. Then, I explained to her that I live pretty far away and it’s hard for me to commute here in the morning,” Wang said.

Wang qualified for the contract and was required by the contract to prove she was completing 40 hours of her physical activity throughout the semester.

“After [Ms. Uyenoyama] approved me, I had to get a lot of forms signed by her, my parents and my karate instructor. You have to keep track of all of your hours, and you check in every month to explain that you’ve actually completed the hours, so they’re monitoring you pretty closely,” Wang said.

Once a student proves that they have fulfilled the physical wellness aspect of the credit they must further complete a mental wellness project or independent study. Uyenoyama said that since wellness courses at the school incorporate physical, emotional and mental wellness benefits, the required independent study in the contract is meant to replicate what school-sanctioned sports and wellness classes teach.

The independent study, per the BHS Course Catalog, requires “[s]ummary and reflection reports, based on chapters within designated books or research articles and physical activity experiences.”

Wang said as part of her contract, she wrote a paper and made a slideshow discussing karate’s mental health benefits and reflecting on the forty hours of karate she had completed that semester.

Uyenoyama said this independent study equates to what students normally do in a 0.25-credit wellness class, but the project is not intended to match the hours of an afterschool sport.

“Wellness classes usually meet twice a week. I try to equate those hours with the project. I’m not trying to marry the project to a sport because you certainly have many more hours in sports than a 0.25 credit class,” Uyenoyama said.

Uyenoyama said coaches are teaching their athletes mental and emotional well-being at the high school, so students who earn credit through their varsity sports are expected to fulfill the mental health aspect of a wellness credit.

“I’m responsible to make sure that you’ve got some additional wellness education. Mental wellness or emotional wellness is where I take the responsibility,” Uyenoyama said.

Student Responses:

Despite the contract’s offering by the Wellness Department, many students competing in non-sanctioned sports, such as senior Benji Kaufman, argue that the contract is unnecessarily complicated.

“It just feels like [the wellness department] tries to make students who try to get the credit jump through as many hoops as possible. You have to go through an entire process where you have to get letters from your coach and do a whole project. And that’s only if you’re eligible for the credit. I and most of my friends who’ve tried to get the credit have been denied,” Kaufman said.

Wang, one of the few students who has managed to acquire a wellness credit from the After-School Physical Activity Contract, said she agrees with other students’ frustrations.

“I just hope that they give more personal contracts out because I feel like there’s a lot of kids that truly do a sport outside of the school, and not being able to get a credit for that is really frustrating,” Wang said.

Delcamino-Yang said that the requirement that a student have no free blocks in their schedule in order to qualify for a contract puts her at a disadvantage, taking away the very point of her wanting a contract in the first place.

“You have to have no free blocks [to qualify], which is absurd. So if you can physically put a wellness class in your schedule, you’re automatically ineligible. The whole reason I wanted to do the outside credit was because I wanted a free block at the end of the day so I could get out early to skate. Since you have to have no free blocks, it just really didn’t help me at all,” Delcamino-Yang said.

Kaufman said he feels spread thin. While he dedicates upwards of 15 hours a week to his sport, his free blocks also make him ineligible for the credit. Due to the fact he has to take Yoga for his wellness credit, he has less free time in school to finish homework.

“I’m rushing more of [my work] at night and I’m sleeping less,” Kaufman said. “From my perspective, this policy is actively taking away from my health because it’s giving me less time to get homework done and is therefore cutting into my sleep. And if I didn’t have to take a health class, I’d have more time to do homework in school.”


The Brookline Public Schools system is responsible for Massachusetts students fulfilling the state requirement of health or wellness. Uyenoyama said when students play another sport outside of the high school, it’s harder to ensure they are fulfilling certain requirements.

“If they don’t show up for their wellness class and their teachers put something on their IPR and there’s some type of conflict between the student and the teacher that needs to be resolved, I can aid in that resolution,” Uyenoyama said. “Also, the athletic director can aid in any kind of resolution between the student-athlete and the coach. Whereas if it’s someone that’s doing a sport outside of the high school, we have no accountability there.”

Uyenoyama said if an athlete and coach have a conflict, such as an athlete consistently missing practices, the high school can easily keep track of their behavior and how that will affect the student’s wellness credit.

“There’s some oversight if there are any issues with a student earning credit or some conflict that needs to be resolved between a teacher and a student. As the coordinator, I will help step in and mediate that situation, whereas, in an outside program or an outside entity, I have no oversight of that,” Uyeyonama said.

Students must take a wellness class to ensure they meet the physical and mental education standards set by the state. The administration is unable to confirm a student’s participation in an external sport and whether they are fulfilling the right requirements mandated by the state.

Uyenoyama said she has been intentional about making the wellness course blocks flexible for juniors and seniors so that any student who plays a sport outside of school can fit a wellness block into their schedule.

“We have Z block classes, and we have classes opposite any kind of special programming that might already have students blocked,” Uyenoyama said.

While Uyenoyama does approve students for the contract, she said the concept of earning a wellness credit through the high school and doing a non-sanctioned sport are not equivalent to each other.

“You have to take English every year at the high school,” Uyenoyama said. “It would be nice if someone was involved in English literacy activities such as Poetry Club or a writing publication, but they still can’t go to the head of the English department and receive high school English credit.”

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