GREEN  Green High School has expanded its physical education elective course offerings this year, including a course that allows students to form partnerships with fellow students with special needs.

The new course, Physical Education Mentorship, allows for upperclassmen to exercise and learn alongside special education students.

The course has 20 general education students and 11 special education students, creating a 2-to-1 ratio between general and special education students.

"This allows for more one-on-one attention," said Lisa Pafford, a North Canton native who came up with the idea for the course.

Pafford, who returned to Northeast Ohio four years ago after teaching physical education for several years in Atlanta, said she recently had her general education students create a lesson geared around physical education and then the students presented them to the special education students. The lessons were videotaped and students had to create expectations and explain how the lesson would be carried out.

"They did pretty well with that," Pafford said.

She said the course has truly been rewarding for all the students and the feedback has been great.

"The special education students are getting an atmosphere they never got before," Pafford said.

Fridays are free days in the course, but during the week students take part in a wide variety of activities that include team sports, board games and even a fitness scavenger hunt. Outside of school, the general education students have taken the special education students out to do different activities.

One of the biggest challenges, Pafford said, is many of general education students want to know more about the disabilities the special education students have.

"I work with them more to make them aware of the behavior they might encounter and how to deal with it," Pafford said.

Senior Madeline Dettorre said she took the class because she wanted to work with special education student and see what the experience was like.

"It is good to know these kids we see every day," Dettorre said.

Senior Jeremy McAleese, who has a sister with special needs, said he has helped his sister growing up and wanted to continue to help other students.

Dettorre plans to go into the special education field while McAleese said he wanted to find a way to volunteer in the future to continue to help students with special needs.

Green High School Principal Cindy Brown said the new course is a wonderful program.

"The best part is seeing the friendships that grow," Brown said.

Brown said at a recent school dance, students in the course danced with the special education students.

"This course provides a lot for both groups," said Brown, who expects the course to be even more popular next year.


Another new course offering this year is a course called Trends in Aerobic Fitness taught by Michele Whitmer.

One of the goals was to create more physical education electives that weren’t all for boys.

"We have been wanting for years to have something that appeals to girls," Whitmer said.

Whitmer said the class consists of guest speakers, yoga days and different group cardio. There are also weekly healthy habit challenges that students work to complete. One was geared around drinking more water and another was around getting more sleep. Whitmer said the students blog about their challenges and how it goes.

There are eight girls in the course this year, but Whitmer said the community and school district has been very supportive of the class. She hopes word will continue to get out about the course and it can continue to be offered in the future.

"It is going great so far and the kids seem to really enjoy it," Whitmer said.